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02/11/2013 at 13:07

I know I'm only 16, but I'd really like to set up my own online shop selling plants I've grown from seeds or cuttings, as my nans garden and my allotment are full to the brim with them. 

I just wanted to know what people think?

I did do a level 3 business course during my last year at school and passed, so hoping I have the skills required.Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated

Lyn
02/11/2013 at 13:21

Hello Ryan, good to see you again and pleased you have been busy.

With regards to an internet site, there is so much to think of and plan, the mail order side of it can be horendous, peolpe could order plants by the thousand, you will  need staff, big premises and so on.

Would it be better to start small, such as asking the local garden centres if they will buy from you, maybe some ebay selling.

You could sell in the local papers, have a stall outside then build up from that.

I wish you all the luck in your new venture, 

02/11/2013 at 13:24

I think the easiest way to start would probably be to set up a shop on Ebay.  I would recommend doing a lot of research into packaging and delivery costs as well as what returns policy you should have.  It's not something I would enter into without a lot of thought.

02/11/2013 at 13:27

Go international Ryan...trying to buy wee plugs,bulbs and plants here in France is like taking out a mortgage...Tres difficile...!!!

For instance I would like lots and lots of bulbs, plugs and plants for my new garden and in France just 3 Alliums would cost me the equivalent of 6 quid...whereas Thompson and Morgon have 100 for 20 quid...but they will not, and totally refuse to post to France...likewise with plugs etc...when i have spoken to them direct they say it takes too long in the post..bullsh*t....ooops sorry bad language

I ordered some clothes stuff from Amazon and it only took 3 days...so where is the logic...

I have a 200 quid order pending with T&M at the moment and I will have to get it sent to a UK address and then someone has to post it again here...so double the postage...T&M have an international site but they will only post seed packets...

There are something like 250,000 expats over here so there is a market...mind you, you will have to get your packaging right...but that applies to posting in the UK also...

Either way GOOD LUCK TO YOU...any young person starting a fledgling business is to be admired...You will go far young man...

Carmic

 

02/11/2013 at 13:32

I think ebay is a good way forward. I have bought quite a bit on eBay and luckily so far have not been dissapointed

02/11/2013 at 13:42

Hello Ryan

I think selling locally might be the best way to start. See if local shops will sell some for you. ,your local garden centre may be happy to sell your locally grown plamts....talk to the manager.  Can you sell from your nan's place?  Maybe keep most of your stock at your allotment.   Sell popular plants. , Growing polyanthus for example.  You can display a whole range of them in the brightest colours that attract anyone passing by.  I think it better for you to decelop your selling skills at home...get used to talking to people about plants, get an idea of what you can charge, see what,people want and will actually buy.  Take cuttings of things like  penstemons....we all love penstemons.....geraniums, pelargoniums, etc.

You can develop an online business when you have understood a little more about supplying a market.  You wont  have postage or packaging costs either.  

I used to sell plants myself on a small part time basis....it was very profitable and I was close to purchasing a run down nursery locally.  For me, I have a reasonably attractive garden and it did attract people.  They could see plants I had for sale actually growing well in my garden and they would point to them amd ask,if I had any for sale. 

If you get a good knowledge of plants and their needs....how to grow them, etc.....you,will get a reputation for being able to advise people about plants and not just selling them.

On line, Ryan, I think is best considered after you have had a year or two of practical local, on the ground experience.  What do you think?

02/11/2013 at 13:43

Hiya Lyn....we have similar advice for Ryan I think....our posts crossed together 

02/11/2013 at 14:09

Ryan, my local shop sells some plants already. My excess cuttings and seedlings I sell through the shop. It pays for new purchases and gets me gardening work as a side line.

Having run an ebay business I know what an undertaking it can be.

My advice is start small.

As time goes by the experience of what goes right and what goes wrong, will teach you valuable lessons which when scaled up can make the difference between profit and loss.

Business courses are a good grounding, but practical lessons are more valuable, trust me.

Dealing with people is hard work, you will need to develop people skills, and reading about it will help, however it doesnt always translate into reality.

The old saying of 'from little acorns grow great oaks', is and should be a mantra for any budding businessman.

It will be hard work, but I wish you every success. 

02/11/2013 at 14:17

Ww thankyou everyone for you. Really quick and supportive replies!

Lyn- Yeah gotten over my illness finally and got straight back into my plants! And yeah I really would just like to do it small scale, so I can start putting a little aside each month to start my own nursery in a few years.

Bob- Actually I don't know why I didn't think of ebay before, I've bought a fair amount of seeds off there ( on my nans card...whoops). but yes I suppose a lot of people underestimate the postage cost as it's a lot more expensive than it used to be. Maybe ill research that and swhat hat other ebay sellesaga eve to say about it.

Carmic- I have messaged you.

Stacey- Could I be nosy and ask what plants you've bought etc on there, as I will have to do market research into what are the most likely plants to sell?

 

02/11/2013 at 14:26

Verdun- Actuslly a few miles from me, not too far from my nans they have a weekly market on a Wednesday morning, the only trouble is I have college then and wouldn't be ablonto attend. But we do have a farmers market once a month on a Saturday, maybe ill look into that, but it always seems chostall wth stalls. Yeah I do try to learn what the plants I grow need conditions and aspect wise sand flowering period etc, as I'd hate to think I was selli a plant to someone and it was just going to die. having done my own projects, I'm a fairly confident talker, and love chatting to people and helping them, as they always seem so greatful, must be something about us gardeners! :P It's really interesting to know that you made a small business out of it, would you mind sharing what kinda plants you sold and how much you charged etc? Don't worry if not

Dave- I actually think that's really inspirational what you've posted, thankyou very much Due to my age, I'm not quite sure I'm old enough to have a proper business account on ebay, but prehaps just a few listings, I think you're allowed upto 100 a month? I'm thinking of going down to my local nursery to chat to him, but I don't know that he'd wil too willing to help, as I'd be competition potentially ( as he literally has 2 medium sized polytunnels, it's really tiny).

02/11/2013 at 14:39

Ryan what a lovely private message you just sent me...

Dave Morgan, From what Ryan wrote to me this young man already has people skills ...probably learnt from his gardening grannie...he will go far...!!!

...anyway, hes just might have got his first order...Look in your message box Ryan...

02/11/2013 at 16:19

Carmic, I've had sveral careers, all dealing with people. I still find things to learn when dealing with them, people are the most complex things on this planet.

Ryan could do with a mentor and many of the wonderful people on this site coiuld be of assitance.

You issue of international sales is very relevant and a perfect suggestion as a future market for Ryan.

International sales were an integral part of my business, and I fail to see why T&M wont deliver too you.

There are no import or export restrictions on certified disease free stock, to say it takes too long is a cop out!

Have you tried a dutch supplier?

02/11/2013 at 16:27

No Monsieur Morgon I have not tried a Dutch supplier...9as yet)...any suggestions of a reasonably priced with a decent selection Dutch one, kind sir.

02/11/2013 at 16:47

Ryan,I had my first greenhouse when I was 10. I started selling plants to neighbours. I offered to put them in for them and then charged for them. You get more in at 4 inch spacing than 6 inch apart. The neighbours seemed quite pleased. I started growing tomato plants and then advertised in the local paper. At that time it was very much Moneymaker and Ailsa Craig. I sold out. The following year, I grew more varieties. Each year I grew more and sold out. I semi retired from the business at 18(because I went away to Uni), but taught my mum how to prick out.  40 years on,she still sells bedding plants and tomato plants(and my surplus perennials) from the house.

My advice is to keep your overheads as low as possible. You may have to cost in electric for greenhouse propagation/frost free. Use good quality compost (I recommend levington M3) Grow your plants as well as possible and provide a quality product. Advertise locally and on Gumtree and Ebay. Once you build up a ood reputation, people will turn up whether you advertise or not. This is what happened when I went to Uni and my mum took over. I would not get into posting unless you are very sure of the added costs and problems.(methods of payment etc.) Keep good records of costs, and sales as the tax man will want his cut. I would not go  nationwide unless you have a rare plants nursery, supplying plants that people cannot get from the local garden centre. You may get  into one type of plant as you develop. A lot of specialist nurseries attend plant fairs to sell their wares.

Good luck.

02/11/2013 at 17:48

I don't have anything much to add Ryan but just think it's lovely to see so many people trying to help you.

I get quite a bit on e bay. Lots of fuchsia- which are supposed to be easy to take cuttings from.

I wish you all the luck in the world

02/11/2013 at 18:20

Fidget- Thnakyou for sharing that with, that's definitely given me something to live upto, may I ask what you're doing now asin job wise? Luckily I don't have to pay for electricity at the moment, as anything s that need warmth goes in my conservatory or my plant room (formerly my bedroom, but the plants took over). I usually use John Innes seed and cuttiing, but ill definitely give Levington M3 a try, in fact, I'gonna buy some tomorrow. I'm shall also get a the necessary business equipment tomorrow too ( well the things I don't already have). I have fallen in love with echinacea particularly, but close second are veronicastrum and achillea. Although I do like every plant really. 

Potty- I know, everybody has been so great to me, so a massive THANKYOU! And I tell you what, if anyone knows how to boost someone's motivation and mood it's you guys, I've already done a lot of research beforehand, but now it's time to look up a final few bits and then put my skills to the test. Potty, if you ever want anything grown or propagated for you, let me know and then I can pop them upto you ( as you're not too far away)

02/11/2013 at 18:31

Hi Ryan - really good to see you back and so good to hear that your health problems are behind you 

No real advice to give that the others haven't already given except keep records - keep really good records, of all your expenses and all you takings.  Even if you don't earn enough to be liable for tax, it's a really good habit to get into early on.

And don't forget, that if it really does take off, you'll need to take advice about the special allowances you can set off against profits in the first year - there's bound to be someone on here who can advise you better, but great big oaks from little acorns grow, and it's best to be prepared!!!

Best of luck

02/11/2013 at 18:41

Ryan, I have PM'd you.

02/11/2013 at 18:47

Dove- Thank you very much, still on various medications and shall be for Atleast the next year apparently, as I still have down days, but I have never been more motivated in my life (short as it is so far haha). 

Would you suggest I write what I sowed and when and when I pricked it out and everything Too?

 

02/11/2013 at 18:48

Hello again Ryan

Cant remember what I charged for plants but I did a range of small and bigger plants.  The small ones would be quite cheap.  Just look around and see what the garden centres charge and what the DIY guys charge.  They usually are expensive so you shold be able to undercut them amd still make good profit.  

The key is to understand the plants you grow......get a food supply of perlite if you are growing plants that like good drainage. Also for seed sowing.  

I grew lots of tender plants too, plants that were bit unusual, grasses, and all kinds of perennials.  Because I grow so many plants I'm always splitting them and I used to pot  up large plamts.....like cannas, Phormiums, etc and these would be sold in mid to late summer as impressive specimens that were better than the GC had.  So, I charged a lot for these and they always sold.

Ryan,you sound ideal.  Keen, pleasant, eager to learn, prepared to work and energetic.  Sure you will do well. Do it all slowly. You will get to know what plamts sell.  The farmers' market sounds good ...??ou will learn a lot from other people there

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