HIPS Rhizome Sale 2021: New & Improved!
By the HIPS Rhizome Sale Team

Sale Dates: Member Sale, July 15-17
Public Sale, July 19-21 (note: sale is closed July 18 so we can finalize invoices and revamp the list)

This year, HIPS is excited to announce that we will be offering our Rhizome Sale in a new format. We were recently inspired by the sales mechanism of the Dwarf Iris Society, and we will use a variation of their sale to help distribute historic irises amongst our members.

Briefly, here’s how it works. There are the usual three players: donors, the sale team, and buyers. Donors look at what can be divided this year and choose irises in groups of six, called collections. Donors tell the sale team what each collection contains and how many instances of it they can donate. The sale team puts together a sale spreadsheet much like the ones we’ve used in the past few years, but with collections, not individual irises. Buyers order whatever collections they want, and the sale team sends an invoice, just as before. When the invoice is paid, donors and buyers are put in touch with one another and arrange a time for shipment that works for both of them. Donors ship the rhizomes directly to the buyers. Once that’s done, the sale team will reimburse donors for postage if requested.

Because the rhizomes will not be sent to a central location before distribution, we have a new win-win situation: the sales team will not have to sort and inventory 6,000 irises; the buyers will receive fresher rhizomes that haven’t been shipped twice with a storage period in between.

The Details

The details we’re printing here will get refined as we get farther into this new sale process.  (Our apologies to Canadian members; at least for this first year, we haven’t figured out how to make the shipping work.)

Donating Collections
Want to donate? You get to choose six varieties that you’re willing to bundle and ship to a buyer. You could choose six irises from the same hybridizer, or six irises from a certain decade, such as the 1910s. You could choose to bundle a sampler of hardy IB irises, or six of your earliest bloomers. The sky is the limit for the theme you could choose for a collection. Furthermore, you can choose the name of your collection: Sass Sampler; 1930’s Variety Bundle; Kansas- Tested Hardy Historics; Bicolor Variety Box; Pink Historic Variety Box; or Historic Sampler for Beginners. Even just a generic collection labeled Assorted Historics From [your initials] could be attractive to someone. We’re happy to help choose names if requested.

We’d like to limit the number of modern irises (not yet historic) so we aren’t competing with the commercial iris vendors, but if you have some irises that are close to becoming historic, we welcome them.

To donate a collection, email <hipsirissale@gmail.com> prior to June 20th with your chosen name of the collection and the six varieties that you intend to bundle. For each iris in the collection, give the name, breeder, introduction date, and class, like this: ‘Juliet’ (Kleinsorge, 1946) TB. If you have nice garden photos of any of those varieties, sending those in the same email might be helpful, but is not required. This is a pledge, so be sure to look at your garden first to see if all six of those varieties are really ready for a little division. Don’t start digging just yet.

If you know that you can donate multiple instances of a collection, or if you know that you might like to donate two or three differently themed collections, that would be great. To keep the sale size manageable in its pilot year, donors should consider donating four or fewer differently themed collections, though we welcome as many instances of each collection as you can send. If you could easily donate more than four different collections, please email us and we’ll evaluate based on inventory. We know some of you may have so much more to offer, but we want to start small and see how it goes.

We would love to have a Canadian Sale page with donations from Canadian members, FOR Canadian members. This avoids the issues of phyto certificates and expensive cross-border shipping. It would work the same way, but buyers would be restricted to Canada. We’ve never been able to include our Canadian members as donors, so this is a great opportunity to share irises! Send your lists to hipsirissale@gmail.com by June 20th.

Nope! This year, for simplicity, we want to offer boxes of six named historic irises. If this goes well, maybe donors can offer variety surprise boxes of noids another year.

The Sale
Once we have a listing of our collections, we will distribute that list to members. In early to mid July (date still to be determined) there will be a three day window in which HIPS members can place orders for collections. Each collection will be $40, including shipping expenses. We will invoice buyers, who will need to submit payment via PayPal within 24 hours of receiving an invoice, to avoid cancellation. Once buyers submit their payment via Paypal (yes, they take credit cards, too), we will make sure the donor receives all of the buyer’s contact information. After the three-day member window, the sale will be open to the public for several days.  When the sale closes, donors will receive contact information for any buyer who purchased one of their donated collections.

Donors will ship orders directly to buyers. We ask that donors dig the collection and ship it at the time of their mutual choosing throughout the month of July or early August, with a suggested shipping deadline of August 15th, though that is up to individual buyers and donors to decide together. The August 15th deadline may not be ideal in every circumstance, as people go on vacation and so on, and we know that we all have different growing seasons and gardening needs. The important part is that donor and buyer agree on the date.

If you are bundling your six varieties and notice small rhizomes (especially in the case of MDBs, for example), feel free to add in an additional rhizome of that variety, to be generous. Ship rhizomes that you’d be happy to receive yourself.

We encourage donors to use Medium Flat Rate USPS boxes, and use cedar chips or excelsior when packaging these collections. Mark each rhizome variety clearly on an inner leaf of the fan, with a permanent marker. Donors, please click here to review the page of Donor Instructions.

Donors, please send a courtesy email to the buyer to let them know that the collection is on its way. Donors can send a picture or scan of their shipping receipt to hipsirissale@gmail.com to be reimbursed for their shipping expenses. Even if a donor does not wish to be reimbursed, please send an email to hipsirissale@gmail.com to verify that you have shipped the collection.

Don’t Want a Whole Collection?
We understand that you’re used to being able to pick and choose. This new kind of sale may take some getting used to. Let’s see how well it works before complaining. Share extra rhizomes with a friend; share with your iris club; offer the extras on the HIPS forum; get a neighbor interested in growing irises – and please remember that this sale is a fund-raiser to help support all the efforts of HIPS as an organization. It’s also a great way to get more people growing more historic irises. Let’s do this!

After HIPS members have had three days to place their orders, the list of remaining collections will become public and available via social media.

Thank you so much to all of our HIPS members for being willing to try out this new sales method. We hope that this is the beginning of a fun new share-out of our beloved historics. Thank you, especially, to prospective donors who are willing to bend their creativity toward designing collections.

More Ideas for an Iris Sale

There are many ways to hold an iris sale and help HIPS. We’ve put together a few ideas here, and our members may have more suggestions to offer. Send them to us at outreach@historiciris.org and we’ll post them.

Remember, we will happily send you HIPS brochures to pass out to customers. Just let us know.  We can also promote your sale on the HIPS Facebook page and on our website. Also remember that you needn’t send HIPS all the money; we will gladly take any portion of the profits that you care to send. And in all cases, please be careful in Covid-world; stay safe and healthy!

In-Person Sales: If you have irises to share but don’t have access to a club sale, perhaps you could sell irises to your friends and neighbors and send a donation to HIPS. One member told us she took irises to a local Saturday farmer’s market and sold them, also handing out HIPS brochures to interested people. Another member in a small town put advertisements up around town and allowed people to come by and take irises for a donation. We’ve heard of irises being sold during Fourth of July celebrations, at summer craft shows and bazaars, and at town events. In-person sales are a great way to help build interest in HIPS and historic irises.

A Club Sale: Hold a local sale with your iris club or nearby HIPS members. Take donations of irises if you like — older members may not want to handle a sale but love to donate irises, and they have treasures! Sell in person and send a donation to HIPS. We’ll help you promote the sale, and if you accept donations from people outside your club, we can promote that, too.

An Online Sale: Work with a group to hold a little larger sale and move it online. Take donations from other HIPS members if you like. Send a list of available irises to us and we’ll post it online with your email contact so people can email you with their requests. We’ll promote it via Facebook and our e-newsletter.

If you have questions or need assistance, contact us at outreach@historiciris.org.

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