Big Sellers

trianglejohnMarch 21, 2006

I had my first weekend at market this past weekend. The weather was cool and windy so I never did set up my entire display, instead I sold directly from the bulb crates placed on the ground. Have I told you how much I love bulb crates?? The crowds were about a third of normal but it seemed that everyone that stepped into my spot bought something. We still have some frosty nights ahead of us so I focused on cool season plants (I got plenty of requests for warm season stuff though).

I sell live plants from my garden - not produce. I sell cheap. I don't sell gallons or hanging baskets. I mostly sell rooted cuttings and seedlings. I aim for true gardeners as customers rather than casual impulse buyers.

I sold a lot of Callas in bloom (I only had white ready, in a month or so I will have yellow, pink and orange). I sold them as one bulb, 4 inch pots for $3. I bought them for 25 cents each, the pots cost 15cents.

I sold more than I expected of Anemone coronaria and Ranunculus asiatica - these weren't in bloom yet but the plants looked healthy (I had pictures of blooms on signs, but I think the name "buttercup" is what sold them). Again, $3 four inch pots with two or three bulbs per pot. Bulbs cost me 10 - 15 cents each, pots ranged from 15 cents to 25 cents.

I sold small Aquilegia hybrids, not in bloom (probably not large enough to flower this year) for $2 per four inch pot. These cost me 25 cents per root. One plant per pot. These were supposed to be of mixed colors but last year the larger ones all bloomed white and I told the customers that they might be all pale colors - they didn't care. They seemed to know about the plants and just wanted another Columbine to add to their garden.

I sold a lot of Rosemary. $1 per stick rooted in a dixie cup of media. I sold one large half gallon sized plant for $5 but mostly I sold the rooted sticks. I found this odd. There wasn't enough plant to harvest any leaves off of yet the people loved the smell and wanted the sticks. Any herb vendor selling cut herbs would have sold more sticks for that amount of money. This is one of the easiest plants for me to grow. The cuttings take a long time to root and sprout but require no care on my part, I don't even have to protect them during the winter.

I sold out of spearmint in 6 inch pots for $2 each. The people that bought them knew everything about mint (the good and the bad) and loved it and wanted more. Again a very easy plant for me to grow - requires no care on my part.

I sold out of globe artichoke seedlings at $3 per 6 inch pot. Last year I started over a hundred and ended up giving them away - nobody wanted them or even knew you could grow artichokes here!. I sold the all to one customer and he seemed to know everything about artichokes.

I sold single rooted cuttings of mini roses, not in bloom at $1 per plant in dixie cups. The hispanic customers love roses and didn't care what color they bloomed. (these same plants I sell for $3 when they are in bloom later in the spring. The grocery stores in this area carry them, multi-stems per pot for $5 each pot).

I did not sell any Bright Lights Swiss Chard and it looked beautiful and everyone wanted to know what it was. I had a hard time selling summer and spring blooming perennials at $1.50 per 4 inch pot. I had pictures showing what the plants blooms would look like and people were interested but only a few bought them - and most bought Hollyhocks.

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Our first outdoor market isn't until Apr. 9 but I am slowly getting ready. First year for plant sales so if they don't sell they go in our yard, win win situation. Some herbs, basic perenials, hosta seedlings, rose of sharon, hibiscus plus others.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 3:17PM
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Now I return from my second weekend of selling at market (at this stage of the year I only go to market one of the weekend days - when it warms up I go both days and then cut down to one day again when the temps get hot). Crowds and customers were fewer due to a massive dog show going on (the market is in the fairgrounds parking lot and the fairgrounds rent out their buildings for events all summer long). Large events sqeeze all the space available for parking, if the customers can't find a close enough parking space they won't come to the market. The few customers I had bought higher ticket items which made up for the lack of sales.

I sold a lot of peonies - named varieties, looked like 3 year roots to me but I'm no expert. Some were in bud, some buds were frost damaged which I pointed out to prospective buyers but they eventually sold anyway.

I sold a lot of odd herbs and very little rosemary (unlike last weekend). Things like Burdock and Fo-ti and Rue (gotta love those international shoppers).

I had no sales of summer perennials in tiny pots for $1.50 even though it looks like a good deal to me. I guess I'll have to finish them and sell them blooming for a lot more.

I sold no roses but I had few hispanic customers this weekend. And no mint moved at all.

I sold all the rest of my white callas and none of them were even in bud let alone blooming.

I sold a few columbines - also not in bloom with no buds evident but large enough to bloom this year.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 11:12AM
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singingcrk(z6 KY)

Trianglejohn, I just wanted to thank you for all of your posts, the information you share is really helpful! I'm a wannabe for now, but I really enjoy reading how your sales are going. Lots of ideas there for getting started.

Thanks again! :o)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 8:59AM
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Well, since I have to rush across the country to tend to an ailing parent for the rest of the month I hauled everything to the market this weekend and worked it both days - mainly trying to get rid of early stuff to make room for summer stuff.

Saturday was like the first really warm summery Saturday of this year so the crowds were thick and they were spending money. Sunday was a little hotter (could have been my sunburn from the day before) and not as crowded and people were mostly looking and not buying.

Once again I sold out of mint. Plain old spearmint. If I had only known how popular it is I would have grown more. I have a theory that fragrance has just as much impact as flower color. Trust me, after this spring I will invest in a large mint collection and propagate like a madman.

The hispanic customers that whined for Cilantro two weeks ago ignored it now that I finally have it. I sold some but not much. They did buy mini roses. The dozen or so I have left I will hold until they bloom and raise the price. These are great easy care potted plant for me, they require no winter protection, root easily, transport without damage, hold up well all day sitting in a parking lot... now if I could just remember to keep the tags with them so I knew what colors they were.

I sold large brugmansia cuttings. I didn't move a ton of them but folks that knew what they were bought them and then dragged there friends over to get them to buy one also. I sold them for $5 in a quart pot, some were 2 feet tall. I don't have named cultivars, mine come from plants friends gave me years ago and from some seeds I grew that someone gave me from South America (a wild strain - very hardy but not so special in bloom).

I sold a lot of ferns. Regular Erect Sword Ferns in quart pots for $5. Many people wanted hardy perennial ferns (which after not selling a single one last year I stuck them all in the ground around the house! and focused my attention on boston ferns instead) but I sold a lot of them anyway. I believe a lot of them went to other vendors that just wanted something to liven up their booths. Years ago I bought a few of these ferns from the local big box retailer from their clearance section for $7 a hanging basket. I took them home and sawed them each into 6 pieces and potted them up. This boston fern relative does real well under my care and in my yard and hoophouse over the winter. I think I may stagger the dividing so that I can offer a huge full plant for $10 and a half sized plant for $5 in the future. Ferns are not huge sellers for me but they really look good in the display and transport well which ends up being a crucial and overlooked ellement by many plant vendors.

I brought out some of my garden decor stuff to fill in the holes in the display. My perennial good seller is chunks of waste glass that I buy every year when I drive across the country to visit my parents. I offer rocks of colored glass for folks to place in their birdbaths or on deck railings from $1 to $10. Kids buy all the dollar rocks before lunchtime.

Some things that I do that gather praise from shoppers:

I tell where the other plant vendors are at the flea market if I don't have the plant or the size they are looking for. (I don't really care how the other vendors feel about this - but I care a great deal how the customers feel about it, and they appreciate my honesty).

I tell them if it is the appropriate time to plant whatever it is they are looking for. If it something that I am selling I explain to them how to protect it should we have a late spring frost. I tell them how I ammend my soil and how to do it without killing their back or their pocketbook. Less work = more enjoyment = happy customers

I keep a large bowl of water at the front of my display for all the passing dogs to drink. I meet and great each dog and owner (there are hundreds of dogs at this flea market, I would say that one out of ten customers has their dog with them. Keep in mind that 20,000 people can come to this market on a weekend, though the norm is more like 10,000).

Even with all this - I only make around $200 a weekend. Now I set up around 9am and breakdown and go home by 2:30pm so it doesn't kill my entire day. By growing and hauling and selling directly in the bulb crates it makes it easy to load up, unload and set up. Totally a one man operation. While at the market I do not see other vendors, even other plant vendors making more sales than me. They may have higher ticket items so they probably make more money in the long run but I seem to have more customers and I am seeing repeat customers each weekend which is the 'goldmine' ellement of this business. If they are only gonna buy from you once you don't have a business with any longevity. You want repeat happy customers.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 12:21PM
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Miss_Mudcat(SE Indiana z5)

Thanks for your posts, tj! Keep 'em coming, please!


P. S. LOVED your doggie water-bowl idea!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 2:30PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

I really enjoy your posts, thank you so much!

I hope your ailing parent will be fine, very quickly....and realize you may not answer this soon, but I'd like to know what kind of "media" you use in your pots. I noticed you give the cost of your plant(s) and the pot, but not the cost of the planting medium, so I was curious what you're using.
Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 4:35AM
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My general all purpose media is patterned after the one Felder Rushing gives the recipe for in his books. Basically a cheap bag of soil less potting mix and cheap bag of pine bark 'fines'. My neighborhood Home Depot tends to run out of pine bark fines so when I see it I buy a lot of it. I also tend to get a lot of media and plants from friends that work in the industry - not enough to rely on, but a surprising amount none the less. I have tried to calculate the cost of the media and it comes to a few cents per pot since most of my plants are sold in like 4 inch containers. My media is not perfect. If the summer proves to have better sales and I decide to expand my business I will probably build an area/bin/table and buy media in bulk. I like the ProMix offered by my local garden center (I've bought it retail) and it is available through a nearby wholesaler - I'm just lazy I guess.

The one approach I take that won't sit well with most business people is that I don't count the hour I spend each evening working with the plants nor the hours each weekend. My doctor advised me to join a gym and work out 30 minutes a day. I decided to save my money and work out in the garden instead. So, I may not be breaking a sweat or raising my heart rate that much depending on the task at hand but at least I'm not sitting in front of the tv.

I'm not interested in turning my entire yard into a production field for the business - I want it to look like a garden. While I build flower beds and develop a veggie/herb patch I have plenty of wayward seedlings or plants that need dividing. These along with extra plants that I've bought are what I offer at my flea market booth.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:40AM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

TJ I use to use straight PROMIX that I would buy in bulk at a local farm store $19.99 for a 3 cubic yard bale. Last year at the Market I was comparing my plants to other vendors. Theirs looked healthier than mine. One girl was mixing her potting soil with her "rich in compost" garden soil. I've decided to do this. Allready this year my plants look healthier. It cuts the potting soil expense at least in half. That's a big savings. They also don't tend to dry out as quickly at the market.(or in the greenhouses).
Good luck with your ailing parent. Heidi

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 9:59AM
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thanks for the info....

I'm leaning toward this side of gardening/ selling the extra's in yard sales this summer as well.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 11:20AM
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Every year up til 2006 I've had tons of wonderful compost dumped at the end of my driveway to use in the garden and around the yard (no one took care of this place til I showed up). I have experimented with mixing some of it in with the promix/pine bark blend and it looks great and grows great plants but it tends to "cake" after a few months. Which doesn't help me much when I'm hand watering. I'm sure there is a happy medium out there and that I will find it. For large tropicals like cannas, gingers and brugs I get great results with bark heavy blend with some Osmocote tossed in - these types of plants all want a lot of air around their roots. I think that one of the problems with large operations is that they tend to use one soil blend for all the plants they grow, and it might be evaluated only as it applies to their watering system. I find that a lot of people don't rush home and plant their purchases right away so I aim to sell plants that can survive for weeks in the container. Again: Success stories = happy customers.

I have yet to see a way to predict what will be a big seller. People are really put off by annuals, they want to plant it once and never ever ever have to deal with it again. Someone did a wonderful job of promoting perennials. I can sit there all afternoon explaining how that coleus in a patio pot is gonna perform for months and months whereas that daylily or iris is only gonna bloom for a week or so. And that all plants need care to look good. Kind of disheartening when the coleus only cost them $1 or 2!

I do think that anyone wanting to develop themselves as a small backyard nursery really needs to think about where their customer are gonna come from. I decided that rather than rely on them coming to me, I would go to them. A flea market may not work for everyone. The one here has a great following and large crowds. When I sit next to a booth that isn't selling much and the craftsman is complaining, I always say that the $18 fee to participate is the cheapest form of advertising available. People may not buy from you the first time they see you. But if you show up on a regular basis and make it obvious what kind of business you are - the 'regulars' will come to know you and sales will increase. Whether they increase enough to quit your day job is a whole other matter.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 5:27PM
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nctomatoman(z7/8 NC)

Hey, John! We had an early start at the Raleigh Farmer's Market on Saturday...but a good one (amazing the enthusiastic desire for people to get their heirloom tomato plants...and the eggplant and peppers are looking really good for being so early).

First time I've popped into this forum.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 11:28PM
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Hi Craig! I'm not there, I'm back home in Oklahoma dealing with an elderly parent health crisis (long story). I've been bouncing back and forth all winter. One month here and then back for a month and then one month here... this is my third and final month which gets me back to Raleigh in time for the last month of high sales at the Flea. June is usually too hot by the end of the month for really great sales so it is my final push for the season. But I had a good spring while I was there, enough to encourage me to do it all again in the fall and to grow a lot for next spring (and hopefully spend the entire spring in one city!)

A few times in the past I have responded to threads about starting up a small scale plant business and I would get a number of private emails asking the details of what I thought sold the best. So I decided this year that I would just post my thoughts about each weekend for all to see. I'm sure by the end of the season we will all be painfully aware that I still haven't got a clue!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 1:51PM
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Did the Sign in the front yard thing this past weekend ( we live on the main road through town) to get geared up for the up coming Farmers Market in May. Very good weekend. Got the word out so am looking forward to Market time. Sold some of my Concrete items and alot of Hosta's, Roma Tomatoes, Hot Peppers, Rose of Sharon but not 1 Herb. Means I will have more for the Market.
Good Luck To All!!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 10:06PM
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Back to normal and back to the market this past weekend.

The market was slow with a low turnout, both in vendors and in customers.

I sold out of mini roses in any color. Every one of them was sold to a Latina (I presume Mexican, there seems to be some affinity for roses in Mexicanas). These were single rooted cuttings in mid size styrofoam cups for $2 and $3 depending on size and quality.

I sold out of asiatic lilies in bloom, and callas that were just emerging (pinks and orange, tho the colors looked off to me - a problem with cheap bulbs). All to the same woman. She likes pink and buys a lot of stuff from me each week. single pots for $2 - $5 depending on quality.

I sold a lot of decorative rocks of waste glass from glass factories. I seem to be the only person selling it locally. I have rocks for $1 to $100 but I sell a lot of $4 sized rocks (about the size of a large lemon).

I sold a few castor beans - though I grew a ton of them. These were the reddish type but not a named variety. They were in gallon pots for $4, about a foot tall. The people that bought them knew everything about them and expressed delight in finally finding some. (I thought everyone grew these?)

I had one guy come running up to my display excited to spot strawberries. How he saw these tiny single plantlets buried deep in a crate of herbs I'll never know. I couldn't see them and I was standing right beside them. Anyway he looks over at my display from about 30 feet away and then comes running up. He bought all that I had for $1 per plant (they were tiny but I think one of them had a small berry on it, so they were old enough to set fruit). He was thrilled that I knew they were Quinalts - everbearers.

I sold a few peonies - not in bloom. One large and one small. I discounted them to $6 and $4 because of the non-blooming part. Along with some Elephant ears for $6 a pot

I didn't sell any cannas, tigridia, crinums or brugmansia's even though some of them had buds and were 3 feet tall at $5. Folks did ask about them but no one bought any. Remind me not to root so many cuttings next year.

Once again someone bought me out of mint. Must've been for some juleps to watch the horse race.

Everyone asked for Basil - which I have at home but it looks awful so I don't know when I can perk it up enough to sell it.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 1:38PM
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seneca_s(6-7 Idaho)

All things that I've sold out of are the things that I couldn't move last year. Big interest in the food things, the grapes rhubarb, currants, rasberries. Stuff I thought most people in this area have. Sold out of lillies also and fast. I'd buy brugs from you for 5 bucks. So far, what I see is that people want what everybody else has which is the opposite of what I want for my yard. They want the familiar. I sold out of foxglove, which is another that everybody grows here. Heirloom tomatos go okay as long as they're red and round. Sold out of iris that I got out of the dump so I labeled them unknown color and didn't pot them. They looked terrible, but you know, they'll bounce back. 25 cents a rhizome. Another very common thing. I did not price my unusual plants any higher, I do an easy "by the pot size" price system, but people just aren't too adventurous.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 11:16PM
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At the outdoor Market Sunday we did quite well. Sold out of Red Raspberry's, Rose of Sharon, Roma Tomatoes and Hot Peppers. Lots of Hosta's and Ornamental Grasses too plus some Herbs. Had several compliments about how well my plants looked.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 11:35PM
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The idea behind this business was to make spending money from my garden, for my garden. I can pot up plenty of common things and I can get plenty of normal bedding plants for free from friends in the biz. In addition I tend to buy rarer type plants. I figure next year when I expand my display I will add a section just for the pricier things and mark it as such. I doubt at this market there will ever be a big demand for obscure plants but I believe the word of mouth advertising would help, and you never know.

Brugs have sorta saturated the market around here. It seems that everybody sells them and with the mild winter we just had I'm sure plenty will be coming back on their own from last years plantings (mine did) so the demand will be low.

I really want to shift directions and focus on rarer veggies and herbs but the market I sell at just doesn't seem up to the challenge.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 9:59AM
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Today is Mother's Day and I am not at the market because of severe weather. I was there yesterday and it was an odd day to say the least. First of all the fairgrounds where the flea market is held rents out its buildings for private functions. I believe every building was rented out yesterday (graduation's, dog show, police academy functions..etc). This is how they report that 10,000 people can be on grounds on one day. There are two big problems with all this activity as far as flea market vending is concerned - first of all the people attending the event don't often walk through or shop the flea market. Secondly there is no parking for the flea market customers who would be there to shop. So even though the parking lot's are full and there is plenty of noise in the air, there is little activity at the stalls.

I had one of those days where I felt like nothing was selling and the whole experience was a waste of my time - that is until I counted out my money on the way home. I made enough to compensate for not coming in to sell in the rain today! Where it came from and how it got in my pocket is new to me.

I sold "Garden Party" lilies, not in bloom (some weren't even in bud!). Sold them all to the same lady that bought all my callas earlier.

Sold ONE brug and three castor beans.

I sold a few tomatoes and an eggplant.

A big surprise was Scarlet Runner beans and Painted Lady Beans. I guess people didn't want to mess with buying a packet of seeds and starting them themselves. I didn't take many - but I think I sold 4 or 5 of them. $1 each in a styrofoam cup.

I sold a few small (and by that I mean tiny) Lavenders for $2 a 3 inch pot. This is my first year growing lavender but my rosemary does so well I figured I should give it a shot.

I sold a few zinnias and wax begonias at $1 each in styrofoam cups.

I sold lots of rock glass and a simple metal birdbath.

The biggest news of the day was a neighboring vendors decision to get out of business - I bought his 10 by 20 canopy with tie downs for $25!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today will be spent working on the gardens at home and getting more plants ready for next week.

My new idea is to plant Basil and Mint in bulb crates and haul the whole boxed "garden" to the market and let people pick their own. If it goes well I may include Lettuce in the winter and strawberrries in the spring.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 10:29AM
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I love reading your postings too, you have a wide variety of plants to sell. Its all very inspiring.

Its coming into winter now, in Sydney, and we have had a sprinkling of rain, but still drought going on.

All the best to you.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 6:39PM
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Hey P - nice to hear from you again! I do grow a little of a lot of things. Nothing in large quantities, maybe 6 to a dozen of each thing. Always looking for that big money maker - so far I haven't found it. This is the time of year when market-going is hard. The plants grow so fast. It works out better for me if they stay small so that I can haul more of them to the market by stacking the crates on top of each other in the truck. They are getting too tall for that. It requires too much time to haul enough to fill my space at the market (I have to make two trips). Oh well, I hope the weather stays nice for this next weekend.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 11:22AM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

Thursday was our second week of this new Market. Totally different from last years market. Potted herbs sold like hot cakes. Last year they barely sold. I sold out of the 4" pots of dahlias and 4" pots of zinnias. Six packs of tomatoes sold great, but the larger 5" pot size didn't sell at all. I also sold out of basil and dill. I think I'm going to like this new Market. I can't wait to bring in the cut flowers and veggies...much easier to transport than live plants. HEIDI

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 2:50PM
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misstwiggley(6 SW Missouri)

I would also like to thank you, Trianglejohn, for your postings. I am learning so much and enjoy your chatty way of sharing your experience.

I went to my first (in the last five years) Farmers Market this last week-end. I didn't really expect to sell much of anything. I had just potted up some small perennials and mint. The chocolate mint I took was really meant to be a joke. My sister and I had ripped truck-loads (slight exaggeration) of the invasive stuff out of our gardens just a few weeks back, but I decided to take some to market anyway. I made sure to inform everyone of its invasive nature. Sold out of the stuff. It still cracks me up. I sold more of it, I think, than the perennials. I am going to keep trying to increase the different kinds of plants I take so that repeat customers will have something new to look at. Again, thanks for the postings. And I enjoy everyone else's postings also!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 1:06AM
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Well, yesterday I would have needed some of you to talk me down from the ledge but today I have recovered and gotten over the disappointing weekend at the market.

The market seemed on the low side of busy to me. The weather was perfect and I got an el primo space to sell from (I could even park my truck right behind the spot so this made easy unloading and loading).

I sold virtually nothing!!! a couple of brugmansia's, a couple of blooming annuals, a few castor beans. The only big surprise was the scarlet runner beans and painted lady beans. I saw a few folks carrying six packs from another vendor but all in all I don't think anyone was selling too many plants.

So I closed down early (2pm) and headed off to the large state run farmer's market which has a large live plant section. I couldn't believe it - it was alive with shoppers. Lots of people buying, lots of plants heading to the parking lot. I had been planning on moving my biz over to the Farmer's Market which is closer to my house but now I don't think that will work. There was no space left. For me to sell there I would be sent over to the "crafts" section which is so dead they even allow people to park in front of it, thereby blocking its view from the crowd. The people that were selling were large greenhouse nurseries and not mom&pop or backyard growers. They grow a lot of plants and send a small crew to the farmer's market each weekend to sell off their extras. The other thing I noticed is that everyone was selling the same stuff - and none of it unusual. I still don't think I could get there before 5am to wait for a possible space to open up, I gots to git my sleep. And besides, when there are more spots selling live plants over fresh produce at a farmer's market you know that you better have something special if you want to compete. Guess I'll just down size a bit and stay at the flea market.

better luck next week

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 1:30PM
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This will be my final posting for this year on this thread. I sold well this past weekend and since it is getting so hot and the market is slowing down I have decided to quit selling and focus on setting up better propagation areas and growing areas at home (and work in the home gardens!)

This past weekend was a three day holiday weekend which normally is not a good selling weekend around here. Most people are off to the beach but with gas prices so high it appears many people stayed home. So I sold better than this time last year.

I moved a lot of brugmansias (one guy bought 4!), a few castor beans and whole lot of zinnias (mostly those two tone ones - whirlygig or whatever it is called).

I think that with better planning I could continue to sell through June but because I was out of town for most of April I got behind in my planting and sowing.

Next year I am going to focus on herbs and unusual patio plants and possibly buy some ads in the smaller local papers to let people know that I am there and selling stuff the local garden centers don't carry. I am also toying with the idea of setting up small herb displays at some of the ethnic markets in this area. Another idea I have is to grow seasonal crops directly in plastic bulb crates and haul the whole thing to the market and let people pick their own. Kind of a garden on wheels. The novelty of letting them build their own salad mix or herbal medley might improve sales - plus you can't dispute the freshness when you're picking it yourself. This also saves me the time and hassle of picking/washing/packaging. Now if I can train the customers to pay more for pick your own (with them doing all the work) I will have hit the jackpot. I'm looking at salad blends for the winter/early spring, strawberries for spring and basil/herbs for summer.

Things I have observed this spring:

I really made the bulk of my money from regular customers. Regulars spent on average $20 per visit to my booth. I just didn't have enough regulars but I had more this year than I had last year.

Customers requesting something unusuall really did show up at future dates when I told them I would have it ("I'll have some ready in 2 weeks" kinda thing), and they often spent more money when I finally had that special plant they were looking for. They often would buy all of it when I finally got it there.

Some people are determined to get a better deal and will ask for a price break no matter what. I only consider discounts if the customer is spending more than $10 and even then it is rare. Even when I explain my policy, they will ask and ask again and again. Even when they are shopping with their elderly mother who just bought a lot of my stuff without asking for a price break, they will ask for a discount on their one item and they'll ask again after I tell them no. Some people.....

It really doesn't matter what the other guys are selling their plants for. If you have what they are looking for and it looks healthy and worth the amount you're asking they will buy it. Price things the amount you think they will move and make sure you're making money. In other words, if your product looks like a $10 product you'll probably be able to sell it from $8 to $12. But if your product looks like a 50 cent product you will have trouble moving it even for a dollar. People don't go to open air markets to find a car load of cheap plants. Most often they are just there to look at everything. They are seeking inspiration. Inspire them with a good display of healthy or interesting plants and in the future when they really need a plant they will remember you and seek you out.

I still have no clue over what will sell and what won't. Just when I think that "no one will buy THAT!" it sells. There are as many reasons that someone will want something as there cultivars of plants worth growing.

Good luck

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 5:17PM
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