CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I love buying locally because of the customer service I receive from local garden centers. It's so nice to have insight into a plant's habits, to have someone make suggestions about where to place certain plants, and other tips.
Shopping via the Internet is typically not a "friendly" experience. Imagine my surprise when I placed an order online a few weeks ago and, with my order confirmation, I received a personal email from the owner of the company.
Let me assure you he didn't know I would be writing about his communication -- he is just an amazing hosta grower who appreciates his customers.
I ordered a couple of plants from www.hostasdirect.com. An email from Tom Carlson popped up after I got my electronic receipt for my purchase.
Here's what he wrote:
"These are all nice, but 'Hoosier Dome' is one of my favorites. Thanks again! Tom."
I wrote back and said I was excited about my purchase and was looking forward to getting them in the ground.
Then, another reply.
"These are 4-year-old plants, but the height might be stunted some as they are grown in full sun. They need to get established, but you will love them! They look like spaceships! Thanks again, Tom."
I figured, well, while I have his attention ... so I asked if I could plant them in part sun following their start in full sun.
"Perfect. Hostas can grow just about anywhere but do best in morning and late-afternoon sun or filtered light all day long." He gave me this link: www.hostasdirect.com/hosta-info/hostas-and-sun.
At this point, I was compelled to tell him his conversation might end up in the newspaper. When I asked if that was OK, his reply was swift.
"Absolutely! We appreciate all of the publicity we can get. If you have any other questions, feel free to call me any time. Work pretty much nonstop seven days a week, so seriously, call me on my cell." I looked at the earlier emails, and he had included his cell number along with lots of other ways to connect.
My new friend Tom finished with, "I have never been to Charleston but hear it is wonderful!"
Tada! A great public-relations move from a Minnesota hosta grower.