Become a Grower

Why did the Growers Co-op start?

The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative (SWGMC) was formed in 2011 to create a central marketplace for local flower farmers to sell directly to the floral trade in the greater Seattle area on a year-round basis. Over the past eight years, the market has expanded to provide its grower members with an overall business structure and staff to market and sell product, grow the customer base, and care for the needs of customers. The infrastructure and sales channels provided by the co-op allow farmers to focus on quality crop production.

Approximately 80% of cut flowers sold in the U.S. are now imported. The importation of foreign plant material from Columbia, Ecuador and throughout the world has created an increasingly competitive marketplace that has reduced overall farmer profitability and homogenized product availability. Over recent years, consumer demand for high quality, local and seasonally diverse floral products has steadily climbed, yet until SWGMC opened for business, such products were not available in the Seattle area on a consistent basis.

Who runs the Co-op?

SWGMC’s farmer members own and direct the co-op. The co-op has a General Manager and several staff members who run the market’s daily operations. The co-op has a volunteer board of directors that meets monthly and is composed of five growers and two industry representatives. Company decisions are made in the best interests of sustaining the local flower farming industry and providing a consistent and reliable sales outlet for diverse local floral crops.

Is SWGMC wholesale only?

The market is set up mainly to serve wholesale buyers with high quality floral products. Our customer base includes studio florists, shop owners, stores, caterers, restaurants, event planners, venues, designers and other professionals. Professional buyers pay a $35 annual buyer’s card fee.

Who can shop at the Co-op and when?

The Co-op is open to wholesale buyers Monday through Friday, with public retail hours on Fridays 10 am – 12 pm. The market is open to the public one day a week to answer a strong level of interest from the public, and to help growers sell surplus product. Shoppers without a buyer’s pass pay double wholesale prices.

Where is SWGMC located?

We are located at 665 South Orcas Street In the Georgetown neighborhood, 15 minutes south of downtown Seattle and easily accessible from I-5 via the Michigan/Corson Street exit.

What kind of flowers and plants do you offer at the Co-op?

SWGMC offers a wide variety of professional quality cut flowers, foliage and potted plants year round, including fancy tulips, ranunculus, anemones, peonies, sweet peas, roses, dahlias, orchids, lisianthus, blooming branches, foliage, and specialty bulb and perennial crops. SWGMC also buys and resells product from flower farms located in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii. This allows the Co-op to serve the needs of our customers year round and to compete with other wholesalers. During the local growing season, most cut flowers and plants offered for sale are Washington and Oregon grown, ensuring the freshest possible product for our customers.

How can growers sell their product at the market?

Growers interested in selling at SWGMC should complete the new grower interest form on our website. Growers new to SWGMC usually sell on consignment as a first step. Consignment growers pay a 30% commission on all product sold through the Co-op. Consignment growers supply items not adequately supplied by co-op members. All product brought to the market by consignment growers must be approved in advance by the Product Manager. After selling at SWGMC for a season, consignment growers can then apply for membership.

How do you become a member of SWGMC?

Growers from Washington and Oregon are welcome to join the co-op as members. Growers interested in becoming a member must submit an application for membership by November 30 for next year consideration. Applications are reviewed and applicants are interviewed by our membership committee between December and February. Membership candidates must fulfill a six-month trial period prior to approval by the co-op’s Board of Directors.

How is SWGMC performing financially?

The co-op has been in an incredible growth phase the last couple of years. 2016 sales increased 39% over 2015, and year over year growth in 2017 was 24%, with $1.7 million in sales. Sixty-five percent of those sales are from grower member products.

What does it cost to join SWGMC?

To become a member of the Co-op, there is a one time buy-in fee of $2,000. Members pay a 30% commission on all product sold through the Co-op, including product sold through our Mass Merchandising Program to grocery customers. The 30% commission pays for seven trained professional floral sales staff, a centralized year round market facility located in Seattle’s wholesale floral district, access to over 600 wholesale customers, advertising for your product, and delivery to wholesale customers in Seattle. For more details on what the 30% commission pays for, check out our Benefits of Membership document.  

Can I help sell my products on the market sales floor?

Yes. All members are encouraged to be present on the market sales floor to cultivate and build relationships with customers. This helps growers sell more product, and is the key to our success as a local flower market.

Who sets the price for my product?

Members are encouraged to set wholesale pricing for their products. SWGMC staff set consignment grower pricing. The General Manager may set minimum pricing based on current market rates and availability – and has final say for minimum pricing on the market sales floor.

Does SWGMC offer delivery to customers? If so, at what cost?

The market offers delivery to customers in the Seattle metro area, Monday through Friday. Delivery is free for orders of $150 or more, and $30 for orders less than $150. Our minimum order for delivery is $50.

 

If you are interested in selling product at SWGMC, complete our new grower information form.