I have literally spent thousands of dollars on their orchids. The quality of the plant is usually pretty good to superb. While their plants may not look spotless in some cases, they seem to be more resilient to growing conditions. In others words, their plants do not collapse like mass produced orchids from Hawaii.
One thing I particularly like about buying from them is packing. It seems their current packer does a great job, and I have noticed a substantial change/improvement over the last 17 years or so. I was told that floricultural industry made a deal with FexEx, and because of this, shipping charge has been pretty generous.
Another thing I like about SBOE is that they guarantee the quality of their product. One time, I received L. anceps ‘San Bar Marble King’ with new leaf buds squashed because of handling by a FedEx carrier. This is a $300 plant, and Wayne sent me a replacement w/o any question whatsoever. They also test their plants for viruses, and this is another reason that I am comfortable about their products. I have purchased from other sources, but I am so used to buying from SBOE. I gauge quality of their product and service against others, and I can’t really think of any other nursery that has performed or delivered better.
I emailed SBOE regarding a particular plant that I was seeking in bud/sheath. They emailed back that they had some and then I called to find out the prices. I ordered a plant with two sheaths and paid more than I ever have for an orchid in the fifteen years I've been collecting them.
It arrived in a timely manner, but one sheath was broken and another leaf was broken too. I know this can happen from time to time, but the broken leaf was oxidized and calloused over in such a way that it must have happened prior to packaging/shipping. One third of the plant had to be cut off including a sheath.
I emailed SBOE immediately and have had no response whatsoever.
So much for customer service once this company had my money.
downtownie Brooklyn, NY (2 reviews) January 30, 2011
I lived near SBOE for a few years and it was such an amazing resource for orchid lovers and growers. The area has many orchid farms and SBOE truly stands alone in terms of the range of species and the service. It is a family run business where the owners take pride in their work and are extremely generous with their time, whether in person or on the phone. Many times we were treated to Paul Gripp's tales of traveling the world for orchids. He helped me pick out my first orchid (off the sale rack) and since then I've just been in love with plants in all their forms. We moved from the area back to the northeast and I was so sad to leave my orchids behind. Almost all had grown into gorgeous plants that would flower reliably. I decided it was worth a try to see if I would have luck indoors in New York. I phone-ordered 10 orchids and am amazed that each one is thriving. They arrived very well packed and in a short time frame. Three have already bloomed (I've had them around 3 months) and two more are in spike. If you are ever in the area and are a plant lover, stop in. You won't be disappointed!
Lorli2 Cooperstown, NY (8 reviews) December 24, 2010
I had a good experience with SBOE. They have an amazing selection of plants, many of which are not available anywhere else. I found the staff to be very friendly and helpful on the telephone and they returned my call quickly. Special thanks to Wayne who was really helpful and gave great advice.
I have always enjoyed ordering plants from SBOE but last year I ordered 3 purpuratas...The plants were not as healthy as I thought they would be like the ones I saw at the 2007 Fair. They sent me one plant that is different from what I ordered, but it turned out to be a good one and I loved it!
Overall, the staff at SBOE are nice people and willing to listen and answer my questions...I repotted the plants and they look GREAT.
One very minor flaw will not stop me from buying these orchids from a great company...It takes two hours to come to SBOE, but I am driving again to Santa Barbara this month because I can't attend the Fair this coming July.
I recently ordered a Cattleya mossiae from SBOE. The plant is healthy and bigger that I expected with 4 big growths and a few leafless backbulbs. The packaging was done with thought and care so that it arrived with the sheath intact, (althought they don't guarantee buds). Wayne the representative that I spoke with over the phone listened carefully to my requests and did very well in fulfilling them. I appreciate that they sent an invoice in a separate mailing detailing the charges. The plants there are more expensive than at some other vendors but I think they are well worth it.
I've had great experiences with SBOE. I bought orchids from them when I lived in Santa Barbara and several times since I've moved. Perry and Wayne are happy to answer my questions and if they don't know the answer, they find out for me. I've talked to Alice; she's a little rushed but still friendly and helped me make choices to stretch my budget. Also, I don't know who the good fairy was, but when I got my $7.50 specials in March I found among them two orchids I had wanted but had deferred because of cost. I'm not fussy about buying in bloom, so I don't know about the labeling but I haven't had any obvious problems. The SBOE folks are friendly and interested in helping you succeed and I don't seem much of that in the business world any more. I recommend them highly.
I picked out two very select orchids at very high prices while visiting this company. The company sent me low quality substitutes crushing the flowers on one plant in what appeared to be an attempt to hide the deception. Undoubtedly, the company was unaware that I had photographed the plants prior to leaving their site. In addition I've had two plants bloom with incorrect flowers having been shipped with incorrect labels. Recommend that buyers be very cautious when conducting business with this company, particularly when purchasing higher-end or select products. My experiences purchasing lower end products have been consistantly good. Packaging is consistantly very good and delivery is typically very prompt.
SBOE is one of the very finest Internet orchid sources around. Their web site gets an A++. Very few operations can come close to SBOE's huge catalog of available species and hybrids. When SBOE says the plant is specimen size they mean it, and tell you how many spikes it has. Hundreds of non-spiked orchids are always in stock too. The plants are not inexpensive, but you more than get what you pay for. The Cymbidiums and Laelia [anecps particularly] available are unequaled anywhere in the world. Sign up to view, or log in to see, their 'orchid of the day'. Here you can obtain multi-spiked plants of the best cultivars anywhere, and these orchids are offered at a significant discount. The shipping is fast, packaging the best, and customer service superlative.
I have ordered at least 25 orchids from SBOE and spent hundreds of dollars with them and I can attest to the fact that these folks provide the best orchids that you will recieve from most mail order agencies.
I have ordered from them hardy outdoor growers like Laelia anceps, cymbidiums and masdevalias. The plants are huge divisions, very well established, plump and robust-without fail. I am no new-commer to the mail order experience having used an excess of twenty different sources in the past.
However, I will say that I was dissapointed with the billing, the attitude of top mangement (Alice the owner) and experienced at least one instance where the wrong items were shipped to me. SBOE did provide me with a very satisfactory resolution to all these occurances.
I think one should definitely support this grower and encourage them to provide a level of customer service consistent with the fabulous quality of plants they offer. Some of the issues I encountered:
*three Credit card billings charged to me two to three months late on three seperate instances.
*Twice I was accidentally charged for orchids I had not ordered-the amount was credited my next purchase.
*once I was shipped someone elses order.-They promptly rectified the matter.
*I WAS ASKED BY THE OWNER(Alice)TO USE ANOTHER SOURCE FOR ORCHIDS because she said that they did not provide customer service, only ship out healthy orchids to their customers and their customers don't care when they get billed.
I understand that mistakes happen and I am tolerant of those. But I felt personnally hurt by the fact that I had been a loyal customer and spent a significant amount of money with these folks and was being turned away. On the whole, I found the OTHER CUSTOMER SERVICE REPS at SBOE to be EXTREMELY FRIENDLY and ACCOMMODATING to even my special requests.
I encourage anyone to give these guys a chance but be ready to weather a few billing and or shipping hick-ups.
On October 25th, 2004, wildorkid changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
This is hands down the best source for orchids on the internet. Sometimes you may pay a bit more for an orchid but it is well worth the extra few dollars because you'll get a bigger healthier plant than most other places. I am upgrading my previous rating on SBOE because they have really done a great job improving their customer service and the owner (Alice) did an excellent job of handling my last order. Great follow up :) Good work you guys!
Anyone who loves orchids and wants to stay on top of those new orchid gems that grow out of doors should get on their "Orchid of the Day" mailing list-that's these folks' specialty. And don't missout on their $7.50 specials twice a year -these are an awesome value.