Home Depot and Brussel's Bonsai

cquinn

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That deal probably just made him really wealthy, if he's not already. Maybe it will get more people into the hobby. I doubt you'll see these put up in many shows, so I don't think there is any harm done. Aside from that, this makes it very convinient for those already in bonsai that may not have access to certain species locally to get these for cuttings to grow real bonsai (I'm thinking the Azalea).
 

rockm

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He's been a pretty steady supplier for "mallsai" for quite some time--years...

It's really neither "good" or "bad." It just is. He's a businessman first and an "artist" second. He has to make a business profitable to make all those other bonsai goodies available to the "high end" crowd that know a chinese elm from a garden juniper.

He didn't build all those importing facilities down in Miss. to simply supply five thousand dollar pines and azaleas to three or four people...
 

RyanFrye

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He's been a pretty steady supplier for "mallsai" for quite some time--years...

It's really neither "good" or "bad." It just is. He's a businessman first and an "artist" second. He has to make a business profitable to make all those other bonsai goodies available to the "high end" crowd that know a chinese elm from a garden juniper.

He didn't build all those importing facilities down in Miss. to simply supply five thousand dollar pines and azaleas to three or four people...

I totally get that. It's sound business. But is it good for the art itself?
 

Attila Soos

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mcpesq817

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I totally get that. It's sound business. But is it good for the art itself?

I think most beginners would balk at paying $100 or even $50 for a tree (I was one of those people when I started two years ago), so perhaps having cheap mallsai stock on the market will bring in people that otherwise might not participate in the hobby. Then if they good hooked, they start acquiring more expensive but better stock, and pare down their collection of sticks in pots -- which is where I am now :)

Not to mention, in my opinion bonsai is not very well-known and out there in the U.S. (and probably the West generally), compared to some other hobbies and interests that compete for our time. I would think that having places like malls, Home Depots, etc. offering trees would raise the visibility and profile of the hobby to a wider audience, a number of whom might then get into the art. Kinda like the movie Karate Kid - sounds like a lot of people got hooked by the hobbby just from seeing the movie.

The downside is that you might get people discouraged from the hobby when their indoor juniper with glued on rocks dies after a couple of months. Or you get people who get frustrated after eventually realizing that you can't grow Kokufu-ten material from a stick in a pot in a few years.

But, I still think the benefits outweigh the potential negatives.
 

rockm

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"I totally get that. It's sound business. But is it good for the art itself?"

What difference does it make to "the art?" None, really. Two separate markets for his products, with the caveat that a successful mallsai buyer may cross over into "the art" and by higher priced trees.

Shrinking away from the business realities of bonsai doesn't do any good for anyone...
 

Klytus

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I was reading a rant where the typist proclaimed,'The Chinese must think Americans don't give a rat's ass about Nebari'.

He was probably for the most part correct.
 

Attila Soos

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Joking aside, I think it is good for the hobby.
If your question "is it good for the art?" refers to bonsai as a hobby, then I would say that it is good.

But it has nothing to do with the "art", if we refer to the artistic side of bonsai. Mallsai is for the beginner hobbyist. The "art" comes much later.

Let's compare the benefits with the drawbacks.
The benefit is that exposes thousands more to the hobby. Some of them become hooked on bonsai and move on. This is all very good.
The drawback is that many who try the hobby, end up with dead trees. Some of these become discouraged and quit. So this is bad. But it is irrelevant, because if there was no mallsai, they would have never tried anyway. On the other hand, some of those who lose the first mallsai, become more dogged and try again, because they hate to fail. They want to prove themselves that they can do it. So here we have more potential hobbyist.

The bottom line at the end is that if we introduce a few thousand mallsai in the community, we gain a few thousand initial hobbyist, and then we lose a large majority of them. The result is a net gain of bonsai hobbyists. So there is nothing to lose here, it's a win-win for everybody.
 
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BonsaiWes

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In a video that can be seen on youtube Brussels said that selling 500 trees per day was nothing out of the ordinary for them. Brussels is a tree supplier and started his own Bonsai business from the ground up and it's a business that can supply the demands of the market weather it be mallsais or masterpieces. They have been suppling the American Bonsai seller near me for a very long time with mallsai, bonsai, raw material aswell as tools, pots and soils etc.. . With out Brussels training and suppling the owners there wouldn't be an open to the public full service type of Bonsai nursery for hundreds of miles for me to go to and without the mallsai profits they probably wouldn't be able to keep their doors open.
 

Attila Soos

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Here is an important question: If the mallsai business is profitable, and is necessary in order to keep the money-losing side of the business running (which is the sale of "real" bonsai), then why not sell only mallsai, and stop bothering with anything else? Using some numbers, if you make a net profit of a $500,000 from mallsai, and you end up with a net loss of $100,000 from the sale of higher quality bonsai, then your bottom line will be a profit of $400,000 ($500,000 minus $100,000). Why not close the losing side of the business, and keep the entire $500,000 profit. It would be insane to purposefully lower your profit by doing something that constantly loses money.

So, in light of the above, I don't believe that they lose money on selling real bonsai. But they certainly add to their profits, by selling mallsai, and that helps them stay alive. They need to diversify their products, since the market is too small to go with just one type.
 
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Klytus

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How else would you make a start?

Some watering and some feeding,if it lives to make new leaves you cut them off.

These twigs are too long so you chase them back to new growth or no growth.

These branches are all wrong so they too are for the chop.

These roots look ugly,too ugly for their new pot,chopped.

This trunk is unsightly,chop.

After paring away the unlovely you have mastered your pruning utensils.

You spent many hours enjoying your thirty or so dollars.

These mallsai are not meant to live,if they do then you fretted too much.
 

subnet_rx

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This is a good thing, the mallsai argument is irrevalent because Home Depot has always sold mallsai. They have now changed or added a supplier. The supplier that my local store uses is terrible and starts beginners out on the wrong foot. They put rocks on top of the pots, sell sticks, and try to pass off things that are houseplants as bonsai. I saw an entire stock the other day with pots that had no drainage holes. I picked it up out of the pot to find a small set of roots near the surface and 3/4th of the pot was water. So, in the end, Brussels will step up the quality of mallsai at Home Depot.
 

RyanFrye

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I guess we can call them the junk food of bonsai. We all had them at some point, just not bragging about it.

I think that is the key....most of us, I would guess, did have a mallsai at some point. I did! :D But I would also guess that for every 5 people that purchase a mallsai (Be it a Brussel's Mallsai or not) only 2 will go on to develop their interest in bonsai...the other three will probably let them die and perpetuate the myth that "bonsai are hard to take care of....even though it was kept on top of my TV next to the radiator to keep it warm:rolleyes:;)"


I have had more people than I can remember recount that same myth to me from their own experience. So it may be hurting the art more than helping.

I'm going to play the devil's advocate for a sec....
It all reminds me of when I was a teen in the underground rock scene in Orlando. If you "sold out" you signed on with a big record label that would produce your music into something that wasn't really what you started with. It was "ok" to sign on with a small record label...they wouldn't make you change your sound too much. But the big labels would make you into what everyone listening to the radio thought you should sound like. And some times the music lost what it was really all about.

How many of us think that the "Mr. Miyagi's little tree's" sentiment needs to be perpetuated to the masses?....
 

ml_work

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I have been into bonsai for only 3 years now and the past 2 years I have made the 5 hour drive to Brussels for their March preview sale. I am one of the $50-$100 dollar tree buyers as I feel it would be unwise to spend more on a tree until I learn more about trees. Both times I have been Brussel Martin spent time talking with me about the trees I was looking to purchase. While at the same time there were customers in line to pay for $3000.00 dollar trees that would be in quarantine for the next 2 years. Everyone there was very down to earth and open. If you read their story on the web site it tells how Brussels started out in his backyard selling bonsai. I say all that to say that I think it is Great Home Depot is getting the bonsai from Brussels, I can guarantee they will not have rocks glued to the soil. It will have good soil and pot to start with, giving the first time buyer a much better chance. If you look at other on-line sites you will recognize the pictures that many sellers are getting their product from Brussels. And they have expanded into the lower price market just as any business does based on customer demand. But if you take a look at the specimen trees you will know where Brussels Martin's heart is.
Keep LOOkin Up!
Michael
 

Mortalis

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I am one of those who got into Bonsai by seeing Mallsai at the local garden center.
 

Just Duane

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Just my cents on this. My g/fs mom gave me a mallsai & I was hooked! I'm not saying that everyone who gets a mallsai will have the same reaction as I did, but if it wasn't for that poor little mallsai (i say poor, because i chopped & pruned that thing till it was no longer recognizable), I really doubt i'd be into this hobby at all. I say all the best to Brussels because, if it aint brussels, it would be someone else & at least you know that the tree has a chance of surviving unlike the glued on rocks type from some other vendor.
 

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