Ben Nottermann has been growing his business since the ripe old age of six. Yes, the year most kids learn to tell time and dig into reading, Ben was learning that if he planted a couple seeds (about 50 cents worth), tended his few seedlings into thriving plants, harvested their produce, and sold his 24 […]
Ben Nottermann has been growing his business since the ripe old age of six. Yes, the year most kids learn to tell time and dig into reading, Ben was learning that if he planted a couple seeds (about 50 cents worth), tended his few seedlings into thriving plants, harvested their produce, and sold his 24 orange spherical vegetables for a dollar a piece on the front lawn, he made what we grown-ups call: a great rate of return.
A quarter century later: “Ben’s Pumpkins” is still flourishing. I know because I just came back from a mission to snoop on my biggest competitor. Ben’s Macro-Pumpkinry is based in East Hardwick, VT on a lovely dirt road called, (so appropriately) Pumpkin Lane, and thanks to my recent reconnaissance, I think I’ve uncovered his strategy: Quality (they’re so orange and robust!) and Variety (they range in size from ping-pong to hassock) and Diversity (they vary from pleated to smooth to “Baby Boo” and other specialties). Ben, I have to hand it to him, is the one- stop shopping of all things pumpkin. Again!
I, on the other hand, am just a kindergartener when it comes to this business. My five- year- old micro-pumpkinry (LLC), which is also on a dirt road, is two towns away from Ben’s. My clientele are, um, basically my next door neighbors. And my inventory is limited to about 50 pumpkins (compared to Ben’s thousands), and I only grow one variety: pie.
But there’s one thing Ben and I have in common (I think), and that is: fun. Pumpkins are inherently joyful, right? Hence perhaps Ben and I aren’t so much high profit-margin mongers as we are enduring little kids who look remarkably like adults, and still have a love for big, orange, cultural touchstones that signal Halloween and the Charlie Brown cartoon special.
So far this season, my business is slow. My honor system cash box still has the five singles I put in for my neighbors to make change.
Well, that’s ok, it just means we’re going to have plenty of that yummy golden brown pie for dessert at Thanksgiving!
To learn more about Ben’s pumpkins and his glorious orange inventory: http://www.benspumpkins.com/bens-pumpkins/