Before you really get into producing plants for sale it is very important to come up with a way to get the plants to the customers. I don't have a place where costumers could just come by and browse the plants since I do all my production from my own garden. One day perhaps, but I needed to come up with some other options.
So where can you market your plants? Here are a few options:
- Farmer's Markets
- Plant Sales
- Local Businesses
I sell some of my plants at a local farmer's market. Its a good way to get to know the customers face to face and find out what they enjoy growing. You can get some great feedback and build a relationship with the customers this way. When you have that personal connection customers will continue to visit you for repeat business. The ideal farmer's market will have a good flow of traffic and a good mix of vendors. Most people go to farmer's markets looking for produce but if you have edible plants like herbs or vegetables they will stop by and take a look and often buy.
Plant sales at your property are an option too. I offered plants for sale once during a neighborhood garage sale but wasn't very successful. People aren't looking for plants during garage sales! You can advertise in the newspaper what you have for sale and days and times for your plant sale and get a much better turn out.
Selling at Local Businesses
Local businesses in our area often allow vendors to set up in their parking lots to sell their goods. It can be a boon for both parties since the vendor brings in addition traffic to the store and essentially serves as additional advertising. The first week may not be very successful but by continuing your presence you will increase your visitors.
Mailorder is another great option for selling your plants. There are challenges like in establishing reliable packaging for plants. If plants aren't adequately secured they go everywhere! Also there may be permits and certifications required to ship plants state to state. Some states restrict certain types of plants from entering the state. You will have to check all these things before you plan on selling mail order plants. You will also need some sort of website to use to market the plants which can be as simple as a blog and an email address or you could spend money on getting a professionally made website.
Wholesale is another good option. Wholesale plants are sold to local nurseries at a reduced price from retail so that the nursery can make a profit as well. This is a good deal since the nursery is doing all the selling and the plant producer is simply having to grow and deliver the plants. The one disadvantage is that the producer will have to make many more plants to earn the same income as if they had sold it at retail. A wholesaler will need more space to produce the plants and needs to make contacts with nurseries in the area. It could be tough to edge into a nursery that may already have their producers lined up and stock ordered.
Delivery is an option that I use which seems to be a good method so far. I bring the plants to my customers in the local area for no charge as long as the purchase is over a certain level. Driving even as little as 5 miles to deliver one $3 plant doesn't make good business sense. The good thing about this for the customers is that they get a knowledgeable plant person at their door to ask questions. Every time I deliver I always make sure to verbally give the customer instructions on how to take care of their plants. I also only deliver when it is safe to plant them. Last year our last frost was very early and as it turned out I could have delivered much earlier but I didn't because I didn't want my customers to lose plants because of a frost.
Analyze the benefits and disadvantages of each of these methods before you start growing your plants for sale. I highly recommend to do as I did and start small. I call my nursery a micro-nursery (it sounds better than just a small nursery ;)) because I chose to do what I could do as I could. Each year I hope to grow it into something better and more productive as I learn the ins and outs of the business.
More from the Starting a Nursery Business Series
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