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View Full Version : Flower,pumpkins,christmas trees,and produce


mwgtrade
04-05-2010, 10:17 AM
I am a full time lawncare/landscaper who also owns and operates seasonal outdoor lots where I sell all types of products but my main are flowers pumpkins and christmas trees.This will be a summarary of how I got started and how it works for me and my lawncare business.

In 2008 I decided to quit my truck driving job and start making money for my self with a small dump truck and a riding mower. Well things had got off to a slow start as I did not have many clients and the dump truck work was few and far between.The previous year my girlfriend and I visited a local pumpkin lot were we spent $25 dollars on just a few items, I think it was 2 pumpkins, a straw bale, and a couple of gourds. The whole way home I was thinking to myself (there is no way this stuff cost them anywhere close to that price).

I started thinking about doing myself but I didn't know the first thing about it and when I talked about it with family and friends they thought I was nuts or just being silly. Now back to 2008, I was struggling with business and my funds had gotten low around the middle of September and I started to really worry about the upcoming winter months when the crazy idea of pumpkins came into my head again. So I started investigating where to get pumpkins and other items I thought would sale well you know the traditional thins straw bales corn stalks gourds mums. I got lucky with finding some really good suppliers that were in state but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had talked my father into letting me use his front yard which is a old country house with a 2 acre front yard in an area that used to be farm land but is now all housing subdivisions and about a mile from the highway.

When I started looking for wholesale pumpkins it was hard to find stuff that wasn't being middle maned through somebody else. Because pumpkins do not grow well in my area because of the typical southern climate (hot and humid) I was trying to find where they were being farmed but nobody had an answer for me. I was poking around on the computer when I found a website (ncfarmfresh.com) listing all the products grown by farmers in my state and list of farmers under each product. I must have called 50 farmers and every one was either not interested in selling to a little guy like me or their prices were way too high. Then I got a guy on they phone in the nc mountains that was about 6 hours away and he told must have spent 25 minutes on the phone answering my questions and telling me all about the business along with a price that blew the other guys away.

The farm was further than a lot most of the other ones but business is business and would rather go further than to deal with jerks who do not appreciate my business. So even though gas was $4 dollars I was on my way to the mountains with a car trailer and few hundred bucks. I had no idea of how many I would sell and was afraid to buy too many. When I got up there he had lots of other products like indian corn, gourds, small gourds white pumpkins blue pumpkins it was really cool shopping wholesale and buying all the stuff I thought would sell well. I think I came back with 200 carving pumpkin of assorted sizes and lots of small things that I mentioned before.I was pretty nervous about if I could sell them all because I really couldn't afford to fail. I think 2 days later I was setup to sell I had gotten straw bales locally and made an eight foot pumpkin shape sign and put it out on the highway and lots of other small pumpkin signs on other streets pointing to my location.I parked my dad's antique farmall tractor out in the scenery and it was really looking good.

The first day I was open was Oct 1 and I think I made $30 and was wondering if I was going to look stupid and be sitting there all month for $30. Well the next few days business really picked up and it was starting to make some serious cash. I was on my way back to the mountains 4 days after opening and came back with a serious load this time. I then found a great wholesaler of mums about a hour away at a great price and then the mums were flying off the shelf. A salesman came from my local newspaper and wanting to sell me an ad. Well while I was thinking about I picked up the paper the next day and my lot was on the bottom of the front page. A reporter was driving by and took some pictures and added a sentence to the photo saying something like (you can tell fall is here) and gave the address.

My display had gotten me free front page advertisement and the upcoming weekend you could really tell. Seems like half the county was in my dads front yard lol. I would talk to people would came and hand out lawn care cards and before I knew I was picking up new customers along with meeting lots of people in my community. A lady came from the library looking for some pumpkins for her weekly story book program so I donated about 10 pumpkins. When I took my kids to the story time I took a couple cases of tiny pumpkins and handed them out to the kids and business cards to the parents.

Well the season ended well and I made some decent money and picked up some new customers and made some new friends and contacts but I started thinking about Christmas the farmer I mentioned early was a tree farmer with 700 acres of trees so I started working on that only my dads neighbor a few blocks away sold trees for years and we didn't want to step on any toes so I found another venue.

I bought a 1/2 acre lot off of a busy country highway because I got a good deal. I purchased some equipment, a wreath machine, tree baler, and a tree stand tree that drills holes for a tree stand system that holds the tree by a single spike through the bottom. If you buy trees you probably know what I am talking about. Well the tree went well but not like I expected due to the inexperience really but that could be a whole other page. I would be happy to talk about trees if anyone has questions.

2009 I expanded into three pumpkin lots my dads, my highway spot, and I leased a large lot in the heart of the near by city. They all did very well. I sold trees on two lots minus my dads and right now I am setting up for spring flowers and produce for the first time I found some great suppliers and think it is going to go well. This business is really fun and rewarding but there is no blue print for success. The only way to do it is research trial and error and building repeat customers especially when it comes to Christmas trees so if you are thinking about opening your own keep this in mind and start small focus on quality value and customer relations and I have no doubt you find success.

I will be glad to answer questions or elaborate or share sources thanks

Steve
04-06-2010, 06:02 AM
Well the tree went well but not like I expected due to the inexperience really but that could be a whole other page. I would be happy to talk about trees if anyone has questions.

This is all very fascinating! Can you tell us about your initial experience selling Christmas trees? What did you do and how would you do it differently in the future?