Using FaceTime, a succulent personal shopper shows clients what's new, interesting, seasonal and in limited supply at succulent specialty nurseries. As you direct her from your device, your shopper fills a tray with your selections. She then purchases, packs and ships them, or arranges delivery if you're in the area.
At present, I'm aware of two succulent personal shoppers. It's likely there will be more...maybe you yourself?
Why Succulent Personal Shoppers?
This innovative service solves a dilemma for customers and growers alike. Succulent personal shoppers show eager buyers what's available, and nurseries needn't say "no" to distant (sometimes insistent) collectors.
Due to high demand, succulent specialty nurseries are scrambling to keep up. Many don't have the staff or resources to package and ship plants, respond to customer inquiries, or keep online inventories up to date.
Note: Mountain Crest Gardens, the largest supplier of mail-order succulents, does everything right. MCG's impressive, ever-expanding inventory is fast catching up with Southern California's. I'm a proud affiliate. Check it out!
Oasis, the Succulent Mecca
Complicating the supply-demand situation is the simple fact that it can take years for highly desirable varieties to grow large enough for sale.
Cool succulents, new and old, tend to show up at Oasis Water Efficient Gardens in Escondido north of San Diego. Oasis is owned by Altman Plants, a mega-grower that supplies Lowe's and Home Depot.
True, Altman sells retail online, but at present the selection can't compare with what you might find on a leisurely stroll through Oasis.
Who's doing it?
I ran into Teri at Oasis recently, and on the spur of the moment did a short video of her assisting a client in Texas. In the video at 1:38, Teri explains how it all works and what she charges.
I asked Oasis' manager Carmen Contreras if others provide this service. "Those are the only two that are succulent shoppers," she said. "The others have Esty or other online store fronts."
I also checked with California Cactus Center, a well known succulent nursery in Pasadena. Owner Molly Thongthiraj said as far as she knows, no one is doing it there. But then, CCC has decades-old rarities (like ariocarpus) that she doesn't recommend exposing to the rigors of shipping---or for that matter, to regions where it's not likely to thrive.
Molly and I agreed that the art pots CCC sells (by Don Hunt and others) would likely interest clients of succulent personal shoppers---certainly as long as the traditional source, Cactus & Succulent Society Shows, aren't happening.
A Client's Perspective
Succulent enthusiast Jeanne Meadow uses Teri's service occasionally, and also recommends her online sales. "They're really something to watch," Jeanne says. "Thousands of people tune in. Teri shows a plant and gives it a number, and the first person to type that number gets it."
When Jeanne stopped by Teri's house the other day, she was amazed. "Seventy-six orders in big boxes!"
Personal shoppers may be a luxury, but they do make it possible to cherry-pick desirable rarities. Moreover, if you're looking for a certain succulent, it's a good bet Teri or Jessica knows if and where it's available.
Want to be a succulent personal shopper?
In addition to business and multitasking skills, you'll need:
- Excellent knowledge of succulents
- A resourceful, can-do attitude
- Lots of time and energy
- Space for processing orders and storing plants
- An online presence and followers
- Organizational and marketing know-how
- Ability to safely package and ship fragile plants.
Do you know of others who provide this service? Or ways collectors might obtain plants from specialty nurseries that don't ship? Share your thoughts in the Comments!
Related Info on this site
Find out what to do if the succulents you want aren’t available near you. See others’ favorite succulent sources, mail-order and walk-in, and share yours in the comments below. Please tell us your city or region, what you’ve purchased, and anything else that might be helpful.
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