Heronswood Nursery Shutters Doors but Catalog and Website Continue

After 19 years in operation, the last six under the ownership of Warminster, PA-based plant and seed merchant Burpee, Heronswood Nursery will close its Kingston, WA, nursery and move the operation to Burpee’s headquarters. The announcement was made May 30.

Hans Miller, Burpee vice president/chief financial officer, says the company will continue to mail a catalog under the Heronswood brand. Heronswood Nursery cofounders Dan Hinkley and Robert Jones will no longer be with the company.

A lack of profitability led to the decision to close Heronswood Nursery, Miller says, adding that he’s unsure if the company was profitable prior to Burpee’s acquisition of it in 2000. During the first three years after the acquisition, Burpee allowed Heronswood to operate as it had before the purchase. Later, though, it redesigned the catalog and Website—adding color photos and enhanced product descriptions, as well as editing the product selection—to boost sales and profit. (The original catalog featured about 2,000 products organized by their Latin names, with dense text and no pictures.) The changes improved sales moderately, but walk-in sales at the Washington nursery declined.

Moving Heronswood’s operations to the Pennsylvania facility will reduce operational costs as well as speed delivery of the products to customers, most of whom, Miller says, are on the East Coast.

The next Heronswood catalog will mail between Christmas and New Year’s and will include about 200 varieties of plants and flowers. Miller says there are no plans to fold the Heronswood catalog into Burpee’s stable of catalogs. The Website will continue to carry Heronswood’s full merchandise line.

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