We're a few weeks into the new year, and we want to take the time to recap how things have changed for Native Plants Unlimited over the last year and what you can expect in 2022. So, please join us for...
THE STATE OF NATIVE PLANTS UNLIMITED ADDRESS
2021 was our (Karin, Hollyn, and Eamonn) first full year running NPU, and what a journey! It all started with pre-orders for the spring sale- the overwhelming response had us scrambling! Spring had more pre-orders than the company had ever seen. No minimum order threshold, longer pre-order period, and a shiny new website allowed and encouraged about 3x as many of you to reserve the plants you needed, which, in turn, was crucial to our preparation for the public sale.
Speaking of the public sale, just "WOW!" As many pre-orders as there were, we knew our opening weekend would be busy, but nothing could have prepared us for the turnout we had. More plants were sold during that first weekend than the company would usually sell during its entire public sale. We had to do a lot of running around to keep up and had to fight the wind as it attempted to snatch our tents, but we made it through! Even with that brilliant opening, we were still able to provide a wide selection of native plant species over the rest of the month, ensuring that those of you driving a long distance wouldn't be disappointed.
Then we did something a bit different: during June, after the public sale, we took some of our remaining stock on the road, partnering with Wild Birds Unlimited and the Brownsburg Farmers Market to do some pop-up sales in locations the business hadn't been to before. While we were doing that, we also put our remaining inventory up on our website for people to order and schedule pick-ups at one of our pop-ups or at Geist Nursery. These couple of weeks after our sale were probably the most experimental we got all year, and we're very proud of how we were able to push the business into new territory.
After a small break, we held pre-orders in August for our second annual Fall Tree and Shrub (and Vine) sale! Unlike the first Fall sale in 2020, we were able to plan this one out and tell you all about it during the spring, which lead to many more of you finding our collection of woody species. Those of you who came out to Geist Nursery during our fall sale may have noticed a new tech upgrade: a barcode scanner! Though not necessarily the most flashy upgrade (pun intended), we're excited to feel a bit more like a "real" retail experience. On the customer side, using a barcode allowed us to give itemized receipts, which can be helpful for all sorts of reasons.
The barcode let us keep an accurate inventory, which brings us to our post-Fall-Sale efforts. Since we already had inventory numbers available in our system, we were able to piggy-back off of the June pick-up order experiment by putting our remaining fall inventory straight onto our website. No more sending 20 emails back and forth trying to figure out what you can get, just the live-updating simplicity of online ordering.
And then, as if all the rest wasn't enough, we decided to hold an online winter sale in November and December. Through our online store, we offered digital gift cards and books about native plants and the wildlife they support. We were happy to provide some holiday gifts and treats for you all!
What's the plan for 2022?
The backbone of our year is staying the same: we'll still be holding our Spring Sale and Fall Sale at Geist Nursery with pre-order periods before each. But within that structure, we're looking at bringing lots of changes!
Since the early garden shows will hopefully be able to open safely this year, we'll be at a few of them. We're expanding our seed offerings quite a bit with single species seed packs (14 species) and 5 different custom mixes! We're planning on having seeds, books, soil knives available at these shows, along with our scintillating conversation of course ;)
For spring, we're retooling how pre-orders will be picked up, but we're not quite ready to talk about specifics yet. Details will be announced before pre-orders go live on Valentine's Day though, as we want you to know what your order means and how/where to pick up. During the Spring sale, we'll be using our bar-code system that debuted in the fall for transactions. Check out might take slightly longer, we believe being able to email or text you a list of plants you purchased will be worth it.
As education is key to our mission, we will have books and literature available at all the sales this year, although probably a more limited selection. Rest assured, these will always be provided at extremely competitive pricing. We are also working at writing semi-regular blogposts to make information easily accessible for our customers, and at preparing educational presentations so we can bring the info on the road!
On a grander scale, we are looking into how we want the business to progress over the next few years. Our Spring Sale in 2021 was enormous in terms of both product and foot-traffic, and we know that if we keep growing, we'll eventually need a home of our own. The search has already begun for a location where we can have the room we need to display, care for, and store our plants. We're not looking to move far geographically, but it turns out that the sort of plot we need is hard to come by!
So we want to start the new year in gratitude to you, our customers, for making our expansion, education efforts, and donations (to 14+ organizations in 2021!) possible. We'd be remiss as well, if we didn't thank the good folks at Geist Nursery for hosting the sale, and George and Madelyn Peregrim for holding our hands through the first year. It takes a lot of good people working toward a goal to make good things happen! You're all the BEST! We hope 2022 brings you all joy!