Can I sell my cut bamboo stalks? Who can I sell them to? How?
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By gloriabree from Tulsa, OK
Yes, cut them all the same size or into 2 or 3 different lengths (at different costs) then put them into bundles of a dozen & take them around to florists, plant nurseries & hardware stores. Florist's use them in arraignments & gardeners do to. they use them to stake up plants etc. Your bets luck will be selling to "ma & pa" type nurseries & florists, not the big chain stores. You won't get much money because you are competing with Chinese imports, but you have an edge because are Local! (& maybe even better!)
* Better yet, get yourself a booth or share a booth-fee with someone else at your local Farmers Market! You may have to wait until next your to get a space (booth fees usually cost under $30 per day) but if you have to wait until next spring then that will give you time to stock up! You'd make more money if you could either make something out of them or selling the live shoots in water as starters so people can plant their own. I'm wondering if when they are young if you can "train" them to grow in a corkscrew shape (like lucky bamboo) because then you'd have a real eye-catcher!
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Mary from Houston, TX
Yes. Whether you sell your bamboo as plants or dried stalks, there is definitely a market for it. If you don't already know what type of bamboo you have, the first thing I would suggest you do is find someone can help you identify it. A great place to start is with the Texas Bamboo Society. Their web site features good information on different bamboo species, their uses, propagation techniques, etc.
The society also has a moderately active forum where members discuss everything from care for bamboo to containing it.
Bamboo is an incredibly versatile product, so when searching for a market to see it, consider all of its possible uses.
I would suggest contacting local nurseries, co-ops, feed stores, and farmers markets as potential avenues for selling it. There are also websites like Agriseek, which provide an online marketplace for people to sell various agricultural products, including bamboo. It might be a good place to get information on what types of bamboo people are selling and how much they are charging for it.
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An important tip is to print out fliers that educate your public about how bamboo can take over. These guys sell garden bed liners so the bamboo won't take over your neighbors yard. Their called "Rhizome Barriers". Read what they say about them: www.bamboogardener.com
On the flier, tell your customer where to buy these "Rhizome Barriers". Also, include care of bamboo and of course, your name, number, e-mail and how to contact you to buy more bamboo in the future. Print out a nice sign to hang at your booth (you'll need to buy an "EZ-UP" tent to sell at Saturday Markets and to get in, you'll need to be "jurried in". This is the time to check that out, as they are screening for new members at farmers markets "right now", in March or April. Just Google "Farmers Markets in your state or city". I'm an artist and I make my living selling at Farmers Markets. (small as it in). These days, people are buying less and less, but they "always" want things for their gardens and plants. Garden art, plants and, garden furniture are the "biggest selling items at our market".
To sell "Lucky Bamboo": When the bamboo is very young, start "training" it around different shapes so you get bamboo spirals etc, etc. You can also weave bamboo while it's young and pliable into very cool designs and as it grows it retains these wonderful shapes. You may be able to just sell this "Lucky Bamboo" in water, but people like fancy pots and good looking things they can give as gifts. Bamboo in really nice pots would be your "High End" price range.
You need to have all price ranges. Your bamboo sold without pots (only in a bag with water) could be your "Low End" price range. The low end will probably be your "bread and butter". Meaning, you'll sell a lot of the less expensive plants. You'll also need boxes and plastic bags with water in them for people to take their bamboo home in. And don't forget a receipt book, calculator, and change.
Don't forget your state and city tax numbers and Business license requirements. Each town has different rules. Call the market you want to sell at and they'll give you the low-down on what licenses you'll need. You may be able to also sell to stores, but you'll first have to certify that your plants are "disease free".
Your absolute most important requirement: Great customer service. If anyone ever complains to me about anything at all (even if it's their fault) I always give them a brand new item of their choice. I never argue with a customer. Treat them like kings and queens and they'll always come back. Great Customer service is "top priority". See your service through your customers eyes. How many times have you said: "I'll never go back there again." or, "Wow! great service, they really treated me right." It makes a huge difference. Customer Service is the difference between a "so-so" business and a great, topnotch business.
Finally, dress in conservative dark clothes. That way it's your product they are looking at, not you. Same thing with your display. Keep it simple. Solid black, easily laundered table cloths work best. You'll also need light weight tables that fold to fit into your vehicle and a folding chair. The better your display looks, the more you'll sell. Display accounts for 50% of sales. If you have a helper with you, don't spend your time talking with them, the customer won't want to interrupt you to ask questions about your product. It's best to sell alone and just have someone there to help you set up and break down. (03/17/2008)
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