Donna Vis was driving by a ranch in Ventura County in California that was going out of business a few months back when she saw some old terra cotta pots sitting out in a field, for sale like most other items at the farm. She bought them, all 500,000 of them. When she told her husband and co-owner of River Ranch Farms in Oxnard, CA, Rudy Vis, he was a little skeptical at first.
But as he explained to a visitor to the River Ranch booth at the Fresh Produce & Floral Council Southern California Expo July 17, “When we sold 75,000 of the pots with our plants in them in the first two months, I thought maybe we had a something here.”
The pots were made in Italy some time in the last century and have been well-used, Mr. Vis explained. They have the growth and mineral markings of any ancient pot, and the ranch they came from dates back to 1908. Their well-worn retro look appeals to traditionalists as well as environmentalists, he said.
Ms. Vis came up with a marketing tool for the smaller pots, a windowsill stand that holds three small pots. Made of galvanized steel, the stand is three-and-a-half inches wide — windowsill width in California, she pointed out — and a foot long, and has a compartment to catch draining water from the pots. It is called the Z-Stand because of its shape.
Mr. Vis observed that the stand can hold succulents or herbal plants and at a retail price of $12.99 to $14.99 is a nice gift item for city gardeners. The history of the pots is told on tags and sleeves with old-time photos of Ms. Vis’s mother and sister.
And when the 500,000 pots run out, perhaps it will be time for Ms. Vis to go for another drive.