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 eleven 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 six growers. 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.
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 Tuesdays and Fridays 10 am – 1 pm. The market is open to the public two days a week to answer a strong level of interest from the public, and to help growers sell surplus product.
Where is SWGMC located?
We are located at 665 South Orcas Street In the Georgetown neighborhood, 10-15 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 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 and a $40 fee for membership by December 31st for next year’s consideration. Applications are reviewed and the applicants are interviewed by our membership committee between January and March and are voted on for provisional status in April by the Board of Directors. Membership candidates must fulfill a six-month trial period as a provisional member to assure that there is a mutual fit prior to final review and approval by the co-op’s Board of Directors to become a member.
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 for member equity. Co-op Members pay a 30% commission on all Wholesale Market Floor sales, 30% commission based on the standard wholesale net price for Public sales (not the retail price), 30% commission for Mass Merchant Program (MMP) and 10% commission on Volume Overflow sales channels. The commission pays for our trained professional floral sales staff, the operations of a centralized year round market facility located in Seattle’s wholesale floral district, access to over 900 wholesale customers, advertising for your product, website and eCommerce promotion of your farm and products and delivery to wholesale customers in Seattle and the surrounding service area. For more details on what the 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 suggest wholesale pricing for products. However, Co-op staff shall make the final determination for minimum wholesale 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 $20-$30 for orders of $300 or more, and $30-$50 for orders less than $300. Our minimum order for delivery is $100.
Delivery services outside of Seattle to Tacoma, Kitsap peninsula and north to Bellingham are routes based on certain days of the week. Rates can vary depending on travel requirements needed, please enquire.
If you are interested in selling product at SWGMC, complete our new grower information form.