Why we prefer the real world to the internet

Why we prefer the real world to the internet

We love our shops. We love customers, plants, artworks, homewares and all the interactions they instigate. We love finding things and presenting them in an alluring way, bringing out their best by pairing them and putting them in the perfect spot. We love the architecture of our shops, we love the chatter of conversation, the fact that we know many of our customers by name and have known them for years. They could buy a Christmas tree once a year, a bouncy ball for their dog once a month, a plant for a friend once in a while... it doesn't matter. We know them and they know us, and that's what makes shops a vital connection for so many. A good shop is so much more than a place just to buy things.

The internet is pretty handy. You can buy boring stuff that you really don't need to see in person. Want a ton of gravel or thirty square metres of roll-out grass? Then it's better to buy that online than to drive around the M50 looking for it. A small business like ours can't afford a full time phone administrator, but the internet can take care of that. Have you seen a nice metal bike or bin shed in your neighbour's garden? Could well be a Biohort shed. We have sold hundreds, possibly thousands of them over the years. If you like the look of it, can bear the price and know that you want it, then buy it online. It's a whole load of metal that comes in boxes from Austria. You can check the prices, read the reviews. Hopefully you'll come to the conclusion that Howbert & Mays are good value and offer a great service.

But if you want to buy a plant, it's a bit different. We stock thousands of them, literally. Not thousands of plants, but thousands of different types of plants. On top of that we have hundreds of different pots and saucers, as well as pot feet, pot liners, baskets, troughs.....glazed pots in dozens of colours, sizes and material. Then there are all the composts and fertilisers, of which there are many types. And with each of these you may need some help and advice. That's what you can offer in a shop in a real and accurate way.  It's just too hard to get it all online.

For homewares and artworks it's the same. We have hundreds of interesting items, and many paintings, prints and pieces that are unique. It would be next to impossible to get them online, and if we did it would be a really boring job for somebody. Everything would need to be barcoded and linked and counted and then we'd need to put our prices up. Which is why our website is a pretty poor reflection of our shops. Because it's just like life. The real thing is much better than the internet version of it.

With that in mind, please visit our shops if you want to see the full range of what we really have. For your convenience we do have some of the more transportable and straightforward items available online. We are very grateful to the internet for helping us to sell gardening tools, bulk landscape products and Biohort sheds and so on. The Internet saved us during the pandemic, for which we'll be forever grateful. But for the time being, most of our energy still goes into our brick-and-mortar shops.