Williams-Sonoma got a little buzz last week when it announced a new line of DIY, homesteading, gardening, chicken-keeping stuff. The line is calledAgrarian, and while it wasn’t quite live when the press hit last week, it’s all up there now. Let’s have a look, shall we?
I went straight to the chicken coops, of course. A base model costs $400; the optional (but necessary) run brings the price up to $850. With shipping and taxes, you’re looking at a thousand bucks. Delivery includes “white glove service,” meaning that the thing will actually be assembled and put into place by their delivery people. (I would be very, very surprised if this applied to orders placed in Humboldt County.)
If you search around, you’ll see that this is not too different from any other mail-order chicken coop in terms of style or price. My complaint about most prefab chicken coops is that they are a bit too small for how pet chickens will actually live. Chickens do a lot of squabbling and shuffling of the hierarchy; I find that if you’re going to confine them, it’s good to give them more room than absolutely necessary so they can retreat to separate corners to avoid getting pecked if they need to. Also, I worry that these little pre-fab things might be too flimsy. A predator might flip them over or tunnel under. And how well will they hold up in the weather, year after year? If you’re going to spend a thousand bucks on a coop, you want it to last as long as, say, a fence or a deck would. It should be that sturdy.
So I don’t know. The coop is cute, the price is not actually that outrageous, but without actually kicking the tires I couldn’t say whether I’d consider it a good long-term investment. Might be easier to give a handyman a thousand bucks and say, “Chicken coop. Go.”
Plants. There are plants. Although I think some of these prices must be typos. Fifty bucks for a raspberry bush? Just one? Sure, it comes in a big pot, so I’m assuming it’s a big healthy mature thing, but come on. What do bareroot berries cost? A few bucks apiece?
Herbs in four-inch pots are $13. We all know that’s about 3-4 times more than they’d be at the garden center.
A single lettuce plant is $16.95. Really, I can’t even bring myself to mock them for this. I feel like it has to be a mistake. I mean, I would have mocked them for pricing it at $6.95, given that a vigorous jumbo six-pack of the same lettuce costs less at the garden center (not to mention a packet of seeds)–but $16.95? I’m just worried about them at this point.
10 packets of heirloom vegetable seeds go for $18. Okay, fair enough, assuming it’s all stuff you want to grow. They come from Beekman 1802, and the idea is that you go to the website, log in, and chat with other people growing the same seeds. Which–well, yeah. Maybe that could be cool.
Tools: We’re looking at a copper hand trowel for $60 and a spading fork for $300. Isn’t copper kind of a soft metal? I know they’re blending it with other metals, but still. Copper for garden tools? Really? I’m not persuaded. I’ve been using those tools that Clarington Forge sent me a while back and I gotta say–at a third of the price, they are all the tool you’ll ever need. Ever.
There’s more–stuff for canning and preserving, beekeeping, making cheese and kombucha and whatever–and some raised beds that are actually fairly comparable in price to similar raised bed kits sold online, but pricey nonetheless ($150 for a little 3 x 3 raised bed? To, what, grow some squash in? The squash will grow whether or not there’s a little piece of wood surrounding it, that’s all I’m saying.)
Oh, and they’re also selling compost ($7 for a 10-lb bag)–and fertilizer, and other things that I’d much rather pick up locally than order through a catalog.
So anyway, that’s my rundown, folks. Nice stuff, but not so nice that I’m lusting after it, with prices ranging from “comparable to other similar high-end stuff” to “are you sure that’s not a typo, honey?”
I guess I’m glad to see anybody selling garden stuff to the masses, at any price–but will I be ordering anything from them? Probably not.