Welcome to the Garden Savvy Supplier Spotlight. In this interview series we investigate what makes each garden supplier unique. Garden Savvy’s mission is to champion all gardening suppliers and associations and in this episode, we have the privilege have sitting down with Sooner Plant Farm. Enjoy!
John Ehrling (JE): Thank you for allowing us to conduct this interview. We always love the opportunity to learn from all gardening suppliers. So, how did Sooner Plant Farm start?
Sooner Plant Farm (SPF): Sooner Plant Farm was established in 1999 by Brian Chojnacki as a wholesale grower of bedding plants and nursery stock. This grew into growing many varieties of trees sold as wholesale plants, and in 2004 we finally grew into one of the top internet retailers and e-commerce sites that we are today. We have held a top 5 ranking with Dave’s Garden for many years and are happy to provide plants to our customers who are located across the continental United States. The Sooner Plant Farm Team has a combined tenure and experience in the horticultural industry of over 100 years!
JE: Wow, that’s really quite the accomplishment. To accelerate from the new guys on the block to a top supplier in such a few years is something I can really admire.
JE: Can you tell me what makes your business unique when compared to other suppliers in the industry?
SPF: As of July 2020, Sooner Plant Farm has over 4,100 individual varieties listed on our website and these varieties are grown in over 11,500 separate SKU’s and container sizes. We offer the most popular plant brand names, such as Proven Winners Shrubs, Proven Winners Perennials, Garden Debut Plants, First Editions Plants, Southern Living Plants, and many more! We are a Christian owned and operated business, and apply the same convictions and integrity that we use in our personal lives to our business lives. We connect to our customers through our website, Facebook, and Pinterest, not to mention serving our customers through emails, phone conversations, and text. We offer highly personalized customer service in providing fast responses to our customers through these media types and treat all of them with skilled advice and personal attention that we have garnered in our years of experience.
JE: Customer service is definitely critical when it comes to growing your business, and it’s becoming clear to me how you grew so quickly, you truly care about your customers, and people can see that. When your customers call, or reach out to your business through any media channel, what types of questions or issues do your customers seek your advice with?
SPF: We are open to all types of questions from our customers, such as planting and growing advice and methods, environmental problems, cultural information, plant recommendation, and even plant identification. We keep regular contact with our customers through email and phone conversations, and email campaigns that are designed to help our customers know what plants are looking good, product information, and advertisements. We have thousands of repeat customers who share their experiences with us, and even send us pictures as to the progress of their gardens and landscapes. Since we are gardeners ourselves, love plants and what we do, we pass this knowledge and love for plants on to our customers.
JE: It’s wonderful you find the time to engage and help people. I doubt many suppliers are as helpful and caring as Sooner Plant Farm. Over the years of customers reaching out and asking questions, have you noticed any gardening trends developing in the industry?
SPF: Due to the rise of many different plant brands, we see the future of online plant sales moving towards these new varieties and collections. The growers that own these brands spend a lot of time developing and marketing these varieties, and old non-patented cultivars can sometimes be overshadowed. Our production at Sooner Plant Farm revolves around these new brands, but we also carry the tested and proven older cultivars and varieties of plants. Since we carry over 4,100 varieties, this allows us to offer something to every one of our customers, from those looking for the newest plants, to the tried and true cultivars, to rare and hard-to-find plants.
JE: That’s a really interesting response because I was totally expecting you to talk about a new type of technology, or indoor plants, but now that you point it out, I can definitely agree with you because I’ve noticed similar products being offered or marketed by other suppliers listed on Garden Savvy.
JE: Shifting gears a bit, can you talk about any tips or advice you can offer up to fellow gardeners?
SPF: We recommend that our customers spend the time researching and reading reviews not only on the plants that they intend to purchase, but also by being diligent in their search for reputable and trustworthy nurseries. We have heard many stories of bad experiences of plants purchased online, and we try to alleviate these bad experiences by providing the best customer service we can to our clientele. Shipping plants through ground carriers can sometimes present problems, and we will work with our customers to provide the best solutions for a pleasant shopping experience. Plants are extremely tough and resilient, and many times potential problems can be solved by simple conversation. There is no such thing as florist quality plants that are delivered in this fashion, and we have found that most perceived problems are cosmetic and can be solved easily.
JE: Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us. I really appreciate it!
I hope all of you enjoyed our Garden Savvy Supplier Spotlight featuring Sooner Plant Farm. They informed me that if you’re interested in making a purchase or have any questions, they can be accessed through their website, Facebook, or through email. You can also place purchases over the phone and they accept a wide variety of payment methods, such as credit cards, PayPal, checks, or money orders.
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