(Photo taken in 2008, some items are discontinued, like the white bench and the Adirondack chair.)
WHERE DID YOU FIND THAT?
We have a lot of accessories in our online store here and in our etsy store here. Since we’ve brought this idea to the marketplace in 2001, there have been a number of favorite miniature garden furniture sets, unique chairs, unusual figures and a whole lot more that have been discontinued. Looking for something special? Let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll put it here.
But why don’t they make them anymore??
Great question. And an equally frustrating one at that. Here are some answers and insight:
- The cost of doing business in China has changed. Factory workers are getting paid more, human rights has surfaced and there is more competition between the factories in China now. All the items that were made inexpensively – like that metal miniature white wicker furniture for example – now costs up to three times as much to make. The good news is that the factory workers in China are living better than ever. The bad news is that some of the accessories aren’t worth the new prices so they are being dropped from inventory.
- Sleepy companies. I’m not sure how many times a manufacturer has dropped something out of inventory because they kept selling out. Honestly. Another excuse is that a the mould broke so they can’t manufacture any more. If you see an accessory that you really like, buy it. You never know if the factory will be willing to make another mould for it or not, despite the fact that making things that sell well is part of a successful manufacturing business.
- Too complicated to keep manufacturing. See the photo above with all the pots, everything was included in this set that is shown in the photo. We couldn’t keep this in stock at the reasonable price of $24.99. It became either too expensive or too complicated to keep manufacturing in the new China – you can see all the little steps that went into it, including a wee basket and the broken pottery. What was meant for the tiny hobby of dollhouse miniatures, couldn’t be done for the growing hobby of gardening in miniature.
- Big-box stores are moving into the hobby with their buying power. They have the ability to lock up huge inventories for their own stores, attempting to nudge the smaller businesses out of the marketplace.
- Note that our suppliers, despite having a relationship of doing business together for over 15 years, will not tell us when something is discontinuing. Normally we find out when we reorder and there is none to reorder. When they are gone they are gone – BUT if we know when, we will tell you!
Where to Find Unusual Accessories:
Check out these stores, especially when you are traveling or on vacation. You’ll never know what you’ll find. (Some on this list may be obvious but needed to be logged somewhere.)
- Any dollhouse miniature store
- Miniature show (connect thru your local dollhouse mini store, google online with your city, N.A.M.E.)
- Antique malls or markets
- Thrifts stores or junk shops
- Toy stores – especially if you are traveling abroad, look in department stores for their toy sections
- Souvenir shops – look for key rings that can be adapted
- Craft markets
- Garage sales, estate sales
- Party stores – look for the party favors for the loot bags (pick up some fine iridescent glitter for your fairies)
- Craft stores:
- Scrapbook aisle
- Wedding aisle
- Floral section
- Steampunk jewelry section
- Wood section
- Seasonal Decor
Where to Find Miniatures
Here are some examples of what got away:
A favorite manufacturer based in Thailand needed to halt production in 2016 because of family needs. The flow of high-quality resin miniatures has slowed to a crawl while we wait for the manufacturer to readjust.
There was a TON of white wicker metal miniatures in the industry 15 years ago. They’ve dropped a lot of the weird and wonderful items and are focusing on the more popular miniature accessories now.
Honestly, the time to buy a good miniature is when you see it.
Manufacturers change, import/export laws change, the industry evolves (or devolve) and people retire.
It just happens. :o)
The Miniature Show, Chicago, 2017
You can find some great miniatures at your local miniature shows but if you are a lover of miniatures, like I am, do make a pilgrimage to one of the larger miniature shows for a greater impact. It’s these big shows that attract international artisans – some of which are absolutely out of this world. It was humbling to be a part of this show.
This was my display at The Miniature Show in Chicago. Click the photos to enlarge them.
My learning curves for selling at this show:
– Travel light! It’s painful lugging really heavy bags anywhere.
– Focus on handmade or carefully customized miniatures – go for quality not quantity.
– Use a polyester/cotton blend for lightweight table cover that won’t wrinkle – BUT check to see if you need to first! For this show, the table covers were included, but for the Philly Miniaturia show they aren’t, so I need to bring my own. (Ugh.)
– Don’t try to ship living plants in springtime. The new growth can’t handle the long journey and they arrive pale and/or leggy.
– Don’t bring too many living plants to a dollhouse show – just an example to what you have.
– Half-inch scale is very popular.
– Don’t bring any heavy stone sheets, heavy kits nor any “real” landscape materials that we normally use for our gardening in miniature, it doesn’t go over well in the dollhouse miniature world and they get wrecked lugging them back and forth.
– Travel light! Lol! Can you tell I had my fill of heavy luggage for this show? Traveling with living plants and books is not fun. Edit, edit, edit down to what you really need, including clothes, shoes and toiletries. I’m not sure if anyone notices if you wear an outfit twice – ?
– Edit down your “just in case” pile to the absolute minimum. If anything happens, you’re among a community of like-minded people who are glad to help. You can always find another dealer with some glue or small scissors if needed – and this gives you a chance to connect with them.
We search the local nurseries here in Washington State and whenever we can get to Oregon. Always on the lookout for perfect plants for the miniature garden.
Where to Find Weird & Wonderful Miniature Garden Plants
Great plants for miniature gardening are plants that stay small or with small leaves that grow slowly. There are websites that cater to the hobby but what about finding the right plants near you? Here’s a brief primer for finding the weird and wonderful plants for your miniature garden journey.
Do you have an arboretum near you?
Is there a botanical garden of some sort?
A local Master Garden group?
Use Google to search your area for these groups, they can be a great miniature plant source. Every spring, and sometimes throughout the summer, charitable organizations that are devoted to horticulture hold plant sales to help raise funds. For some of their events, the organizers invite local growers to sell their plants in exchange for a portion of the proceeds.
These growers may be the same growers that your local garden center may use so there may be a little overlap in inventory, but with events that bring these hard-core plant people directly to the public, chances are the growers will bring some weird and wonderful plants that aren’t available in the garden centers because they only have a few of, or they just like growing them because they like plants.
This is truly a treat, because not only can you find unusual plants that your local nursery doesn’t carry AND plants that work great in your area, but you can find them at great prices and meet the grower too. Leave time to chat with the growers and nursery people and you’ll find a wealth of information and insight about growing plants in your area.
What to look for – ?
If the grower doesn’t know what “miniature garden plants” are, try speaking their language and ask for: Trees:
- miniature and dwarf conifers
- bonsai starts
- baby-plants that will grow slowly
- any small-leafed plant that grows slowly
- rockery or alpine plants
- ground covers
Master Garden Sales
In our area, master garden plant sales attract a number of small growers from around the region. Bring a budget so you don’t overspend. Don’t bring a wagon unless you want to fill it up. Lol! For more information on your local Master Gardener program, the American Horticultural Society has gathered this together on their website. Click the map to get more links to what’s going on in your area. This is for Canada too:http://www.ahs.org/gardening-resources/master-gardeners
Botanical Garden & Arboretum Sales
Do a search on the Internet for the name of your city (or the nearest “big” city) and “botanical garden” to get to the website. They have plant sales to raise funds, usually they sell plants they propagate from the what’s growing in their botanical gardens.
Going on Vacation?
Check out the local garden center wherever you go for new ideas to miniaturize! If you’re staying within your country you can always pack plants in your suitcase. It’s done more than you know by gardeners everywhere and the customs people are used to it. If you want to carry your plant on the plane instead of in your checked luggage, make sure the soil is on the dry side. I had one customs officer think that I could make a bomb out of a plant because of the water content in the soil (water is a conductor.) No joke.