Boutique wholesale nursery in Central Florida encourages supermarkets and garden centers to continue offering easy-care terrariums and fun plants for families.
In some homes, the ‘tricks up the sleeves’ to engage school-age students during the pandemic are becoming scarce. Shaving cream art, check. Letters to Grandma, check. Making stone soup, check. The list of suggested activities and projects is long but so are the new normal days of Stay Safe At Home.
Gail Cash, president of Flori-Designs Inc., a boutique wholesale nursery located in Eustis, FL, suggests retailers consider offering family-friendly plant options that encourage engagement and imagination. Her nursery specializes in gift gardens, fairy gardens, carnivorous plants and terrariums. “An easy-to-care-for fairy garden is an ideal start for families seeking ways to bring the outdoors in,” says Cash. When requested, her company can provide product photos to retailers for use on the online ordering pages fulfilled by in-store shoppers.
Beyond fairy gardens and terrariums, Flori-Designs is known for its line of carnivorous plants, including the Venus Fly Trap sold under the Little Pot of Horrors brand. Merchandised in a countertop case, the 17” x 17” Monster Box arrives complete with this messaged graphic: “Warning: This plant eats bugs.”
Cash says families at home with kids are looking for ways to provide learning experiences that have ongoing layers. “Our Venus Fly Traps are grown from tissue culture and not taken from the wild. Kids interested in the environment and learning about plants and animals will have fun with our bug-eating plants.”
Typical for the indoor plant industry, the coronavirus pandemic has brought new challenges to the 31-year-old Central Florida nursery. “Business is very slow, but we still have a few orders that we are shipping. We are thrilled to have any orders at all,” explains Cash, who had a workforce of 30 people until last week. “I have one in self quarantine and four part time people I had to lay off.”
She adds, “My core group of employees has been with me through thick and thin. They are like family. I am doing everything I can think of to keep them working.” A mother and grandmother herself, Cash is quick to laugh and knows the value of a sense of humor during a challenging time. “This will be the cleanest nursery I’ve ever seen going into a normally crazy busy April.”
Direct Store Delivery (DSD) is possible and is proving convenient for individual stores to place orders instead of not being able to receive floral department products typically through Distribution Centers. Those DCs are hotspots for receiving and shipping staples, such as paper goods, potatoes, onions, apples and canned items. Cash says the nursery’s Spring Pallet Box promotion is an excellent way for stores to receive a large variety of products at a cost-effective rate.
“We have been working on the pallet box program as a way to get plants delivered directly. We are almost finished with a pick-and-choose pallet box where one pallet box can be delivered directly to each store by FedEx freight,” explains Cash. She says the Spring Pallet promotion is designed with retailers and garden centers in mind.
With Easter and Mother’s Day right around the corner and families reaching out for new sources of at-home engagement during the pandemic, Cash hopes retailers hear the message about the value of offering plants and flowers to consumers. “People are still having birthdays, anniversaries, new babies and unfortunately funerals. Friends and family still want to give plants as gifts. They may not be able to go inside the house but they can leave it on the doorstep.” She adds, “Plants bring a little bit of joy during the craziness we are all dealing with right now. We can all use some joy.”
E. Shaunn Alderman is associate publisher of FLORAL BUSINESS, a trade publication distributed inside of PRODUCE BUSINESS, published by Phoenix Media Network in Boca Raton, Florida. Alderman started writing about the foliage industry in 1983. Passionate about agriculture and horticulture, she is an ardent advocate of enjoying and sharing flowers and plants – every day. Connect with her at SAlderman@phoenixmedianet.com.