Inspiration for Ozark Mtn Flower Truck LLC stems back to Cassie Hartman’s college semester abroad in Spain.
She remembers walking down the street and seeing flower stands outside of storefronts, which felt more casual and accessible than a traditional flower shop.
“I always loved that concept and never really shook that,” Hartman says.
In 2017, Hartman invested $24,000 to start a mobile flower shop dubbed Ozark Mtn Flower Truck. She sells locally grown flowers around Springfield out of a 1970 Volkswagen single-cab truck.
Sales have been blooming since, she says.
The business generated $120,000 in 2018 revenue, and she says it’s on pace for $150,000 this year.
Hartman says social media has been a crucial asset to running her mobile business and creating a brand. Customers can follow the truck on Instagram, Facebook and on its website for times, dates and locations.
“From the beginning, people would share photos of themselves at the flower truck, and we’re known for wrapping our bouquets in brown craft paper,” she says. “That helped spread the word.”
Hartman tries to keep her business as locally oriented as possible.
The truck’s main flower supplier is Millsap Farms LLC, and she also buys product from C-Street Flowers LLC. When she can’t find a specific bloom from local growers, she uses wholesalers, such as Mears Floral Products Inc. and Baisch & Skinner Inc.
The truck currently carries mums, strawflowers, zinnias, celosias, sunflowers, dahlias and gomphrena flowers. Hartman says the sunflower is most popular.
This year, Hartman started growing some of her own flowers. Of the 21 buckets typically on the flower truck, which she named “Stella,” she says three or four buckets were consistently homegrown this summer. She hasn’t crunched the numbers yet to see if growing her own flowers saved the business money, but she says it saved time. She hopes to double her own quantity next year.
“The initial preparation of the flower beds took up some time during the offseason, but it saved us driving time and that’s really important for what we do,” Hartman says.
The truck always carries buckets of single-stem flowers to buy per stem or to create a bouquet. Single stems are typically $2-$3, and specialty blooms run $5-$8 apiece, Hartman says.
The mobile business also offers a bouquet delivery service, as well as three-, six-, and 12-month bouquet subscriptions, which Hartman says produce about 15% of total sales. The subscriptions range from $30 to $900, depending on the length of service and size of bouquets.
Hartman also has created relationships with local businesses. Throughout the week, the Ozark Mtn Flower Truck and Hartman’s three part-time employees can be found around town parked at Eurasia Coffee and Tea LLC, Tie and Timber Beer Co. LLC, and Brick and Mortar Coffee LLC. The truck also can be hired for weddings and corporate events. Any given outing generates around $250 in sales, Hartman says.
The C-Street City Market on Commercial Street was Hartman’s first stop in July 2017.
Amy Truitt, manager of the north-side farmers market, says the Ozark Mtn Flower Truck has been an asset.
“People are drawn to it, which brings them to our location,” Truitt says. “A lot of times, people don’t even know we’re there. They come for one specific reason, like the flower truck, and realize there’s a market here and they come back.”
Ahead of the trend
Before taking her business concept to the streets, Hartman says she was inspired by the food truck trend.
She didn’t know what to expect at first, but she was all in. Hartman bought Stella sight unseen for $19,000.
“I was just hoping that we would at least break even at the beginning, because it was such a different concept,” she says. “That was the main challenge at the beginning – educating people on what we were and what we offer.”
Ozark Mtn Flower Truck is currently the only flower truck in Springfield. Eden’s Flower Truck, a similar business concept, launched in Springfield in 2018. Owner Eden Garrett earlier this year moved the business to Arkansas, where the flower truck serves the Bentonville and Rogers areas.
Hartman says she’s starting to see the trend grow nationally.
“Since we’ve started, I’ve seen more pop up across the country,” Hartman says. “I still get emails pretty frequently asking how to start a flower truck, and the whole concept is gaining momentum.”
Kate Penn, CEO of the Society of American Florists, says retail floral sales have been growing – to the tune of $35 billion in 2017, a $2 billion increase from the year prior, according to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report on personal consumption expenditures.
Penn says the mobile floral business is catching on, and she describes it as “experiential, interactive purchasing.”
“There’s a lot of innovation and entrepreneurialism in the flower-buying space right now,” Penn says, noting floral sales have steadily increased during the last decade. “There is a big trend across retail right now, and the floral industry is no different. It’s the idea of trying to do something creative that makes what you’re purchasing interactive and memorable and fun.”
The consumer appeal, she says, is being able to walk down the street, stop at a flower truck and purchase flowers by the stem, or create an individual bouquet. “It’s a super smart business model,” Penn says.
Builders predict costs will remain elevated well into 2021.
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