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The Truth About Starting a Mail-Order Business

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❶But every now and then an unusually appealing item will produce a profit of as much as 50 percent. A good strategy is to find a market niche and specialise in supplying plants that are hard to get elsewhere.

starting a mail order plant business

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Not to mention the money you can make. I love working with these little plants. In an area 4 feet by 8 feet you can easily grow plants. Just start out slow, and as you go along you will become more comfortable with the idea. If you change your mind you can give the plants to friends or family, or donate them to a charity auction, which is also very rewarding.

Hey Mike, What about my local zoning? You can make a lot of money growing and selling small plants! It comes with a number of free bonus reports that I have been selling for years, but I decided to give them away free with my Backyard Nursery E-book. I saw your article published in Mother Earth News. I saw it on the news stand in my local Wal-Mart, bought it and took it home to read. Our little backyard nursery was featured on the cover of the Oct. As soon as I finished that I went right to the website, studied it, and have since bought the book, 2 reports and a video.

I have been lurking on the forum ever since. Today I now have 2, 8x4 foot sand filled propagation beds, about 2, plants in 2 quart containers. I have two beds holding over plants 6" apart directly in the ground. Just growing a few plants to give away will give you an idea of how strong the market is for small landscape plants.

Once you give your friends and family a few plants they will come back asking to buy more. Before you know it you will have a list of regular customers, begging you to take their money. Here in Perry, Ohio we have over large wholesale nurseries, with many of them selling millions of dollars worth of plants each year.

Some of these nurseries farm over acres, with sales in the millions of dollars annually! Selling the plants is easy, and growing them is fun.

One day as I was surfing along. I saw a site called freeplants. I found you and all your down to earth wisdom. I had been kicking the idea of a small nursery around for over a year. So I bought your book. And read parts of it out loud to my husband and son. So I just wanted to say thank you!

Know what I did with part of my profit? Words can not describe what it is like to have your own backyard nursery. When people visit our nursery they are completely in awe of what we do. Most are impressed, some are envious, but they are all very appreciative. They are like kids in a candy store, grabbing plant after plant, delighted to buy such beautiful plants for such a low price. Then they come back year after year just raving over how well our plants grew. It is so much easier than you think.

You can sell wholesale to garden centers and other nurseries, or you can sell your plants via mail order. Will you grow or purchase your plants? Will you sell potted or bare-root plants? What types of plants will you handle and in what sizes? Of course, answers to most of these questions should form part of your mission statement. Nurseries in the South tend to lean toward container plants, whereas those in the northern zones offer more bare-root plants.

The higher cost of overwintering plants in containers often prevents the more northern nursery from competing on price with those in the South where overwintering costs are much lower because of the milder winters. Although containerized crops can be much more easily accommodated into an extended shipping schedule, it is often more expensive and difficult to maintain them in containers during the growing season.

Plants that will be shipped bare root must be dug in the fall and stored in cool conditions, usually in refrigerated coolers. Many deciduous woody plants and perennials are handled in this manner.

Storing plants in coolers is anything but an exact science, and you should expect high losses with certain crops. No matter where your nursery is located, coolers will be a necessity if you are handling bare-root materials. You will need to carefully examine your target customer base before starting a mail order nursery. Typically, nurseries that grow unusual or specialty plants fare best as they are able to reach plant collectors across the country, even across the world.

Plant collectors are often willing to pay higher prices for a specialty plant than what the local market will bear. Locally, however, the same plant might fetch little more than a run-of-the-mill daylily.

Similarly, difficulties exist for mail order nurseries that are trying to compete with local retailers or garden centers. Local nurseries should always be able to offer a larger plant at a similar cost to that offered by a mail order nursery. The size of a plant that a mail order nursery can ship is limited by the high cost of shipping and the difficulty of packaging large plants. It is rarely feasible to ship a plant that grows in anything larger than a 1-gallon pot, though obviously there are exceptions with very expensive plants.

Plant geeks looking to start a nursery tend to prefer mail order nurseries. These often anti-social types feel they can avoid customer contact by locating a mail order nursery in an out-of-the-way location. While mail order does allow for more privacy, you will likely have plenty of visitors if you do a good job of running your business.

It is inevitable that customers, out of pure curiosity, will search out and find your nursery, so you will have to decide whether to prohibit all visitors or schedule visits in a way that allows you to maintain your privacy. Since you are operating a remote business where customers cannot regularly drop by, the need for prompt responses to customer queries is even more critical than with a typical retail operation. Communication can, of course, occur using faxes, e-mail, phone, and, to a lesser degree, regular mail.

I have found that some who start a mail order business or online plant nursery are often poorly prepared for the actual handling of orders. There is simply no excuse, however, for being blindsided by orders when that is precisely how the business has chosen to operate. Doing a poor job of satisfying customers in your start-up years creates a bad impression that is difficult to overcome, so start out well prepared.

Of all the types of nurseries discussed, it is the mail order business that has the most complex process of getting plants to customers, and if you do not have a good paper trail, confusion will reign.

At the outset, let me offer one simple procedural rule that can help you avoid disaster. Always protect the original order in case of unforeseen problems or later confusion. I recommend generating your own separate set of paperwork from which you process orders. Original paperwork should never be allowed to stray from the security of your office.

Customers rarely visit mail order nurseries; instead, you deliver the product to them, and this makes your shipping operation of paramount importance.

There are many shipping options for your plants. Be sure to thoroughly investigate each one and choose the one or ones that best fit your needs. Carrier rules, regulations, and prices change so often that you will need to make a special effort just to keep up with this facet of the business. Also, be aware of the possibility of labor strikes. If you depend on a shipper whose employees go on strike, you will be prevented from delivering your product to your customer.

I will never forget the year our shipping carrier went on strike during a time when cash flow was particularly low and when we had a large number of orders ready for shipping. I learned never to rely completely on one shipper and to keep my options open.

You should contact the local or regional representative for each potential shipping service and request a quotation of their rates. Find out about the types of delivery options: Also ask about hidden surcharges, which are increases over normal rates. Surcharges such as those for dimensional weight kick in when a package is too long for a specific set of existing parameters. Even if the box fits all other criteria for a particular shipment charge, if it is slightly too long the shipping price can go up as much as threefold, so be very careful of this charge.

The shipping company will ask you for information on how many boxes per week you will ship, the sizes of those boxes, and other related questions. Shipping rates are based on volume, so the more you ship, the better your rates will be. Another factor that impacts shipping rates is location. If your nursery is in a very remote location, it will be very expensive for the delivery service to visit your business so you will be less likely to receive a discount.

On the other hand, if the shipper wants to build up business in a particular location or has a competitor business nearby, it may find it cost effective to give you a much larger discount than any it would give a customer in an established service area.

A number of computer-based shipping systems are available to choose from, their versatility increasing with the number of packages you ship. Contact the various shippers for information on their systems, but also check the phone book for shipping systems that are manufactured by independent companies.

If you ship a large enough volume with a particular shipper, you will usually be provided with a shipping computer and system at no charge; at the very least you should receive a label printer and software. I have fried countless plants this way, even cacti that should love being in the sun. Acclimate these plants slowly to sunlight by putting them out in early mornings and gradually increase their exposure.

It may take months, so p atience is important. Aloe viguieri , a true sun worshiper, here at time of receipt left , suffering in sun middle and finally moved to protected area and looking great right. Eventually it will move back out into the sun again. Cactus just planted out in full sun- fried to death literally Nearly every source I have tried has been excellent in one way or another and only a few have been disappointing.

But if you are a beginner, and you do not live in an area where thousands of species of cactus and succulents can be found locally, then there is an exciting and long list of mail order places to try out. While I have definite opinions about certain companies, I feel uncomfortable making any comments about them that could be taken as negative in any way, so if you need to know more about a particular company, you should go to the Garden Watchdog and read all the comments about each vendor.

That is probably the best way to find out what to expect from each company and it is a far better forum for that sort of information and criticism than this article is. You should be cautious about ordering succulents and cacti from overseas, for a variety of reasons. Though some of the overseas vendors have lots of stuff that simply is unavailable here in the U.

I had the very disappointing experience of ordering some very rare aloes from a company overseas only to find my order held up in a quarantine station.

It turns out getting that paperwork required me to jump through far more hoops than I was prepared to do, and I lost the entire shipment it was quite a costly order, too. Not only that, but I learned the hard way how many Euros were in a dollar not many and that my order was far more expensive than I originally thought it would be.

Additionally I learned from friends who finally got their orders that even though succulents travel well, there are indeed limitations. Some overseas orders looked like they had been blow-torched they probably froze.

I will never try to do that again. Be prepared if you are ordering from overseas! There is one company I think is close to perfect for ordering succulents and cacti: Click on their website, go to the online catalog, and prepare to be impressed! They have a huge inventory, and unlike many other vendors, they have everything on their website I have never once been told they ran out of something that they said they had.

Once they do run out, the plant immediately disappears from their site. And the people there are knowledgeable, always nice, and bend over backwards to keep the customer happy. It is an amazingly efficient website, run by amazingly efficient and pleasant people and they have terrific plants. All other mail order places should look to this site as a model for service and selection.

But saying that, they do not have everything. So you must still use other mail order sources if your search is for everything.

So You Want to Start a Mail Order Nursery

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How to Start a Mail Order Nursery from starting a business to keeping it running. mail, deliver, and transport plants and soil in many states and its illegal on a federal level to cross.

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A nursery business in mail order nurseries is the most favored by plant geeks. These often anti-social types honestly feel that they can avoid customer contact by locating a mail order nursery in an out-of-the-way location and never deal with people.

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The following excerpt from Chapter 9 deals with setting up a mail order nursery, from deciding what products to offer to shipping and delivery thesis in commerce Starting A Mail Order Plant Business. Help spread the word about this new program to your local utility. Help!! Information & Resources for Starting a Home-based starting a mail order plant business purchase college essay question Food Business.

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This article has been excerpted from Start Your Own Mail Order Business by Rich Mintzer, available from Before venturing into some of the mail order details, you need to look at. How the Mail Order Business Works. Let me give a detailed explanation of how the business works before going into how to get started. Let’s say you want to start a mail order business or official stationeries, you order for stationeries in bulk quantity from a manufacturer and keep at home.