Growing a blooming business with fertilizer and social media

By: 
Kaity Coisman

CRIVITZ – Scott and Amy Sharkey found a niche that has taken them to 42 states and over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. After starting the greenhouse business, the Coronavirus pandemic provided an opportunity to share their business and expand awareness of their niche in fertilizer by creating a platform for Sharkey’s Greenhouses on social media.

Scott Sharkey calls himself the “tinkerer” in the relationship, which is how the pair crafted a specialty mix of ingredients to create a rapid-selling product. The “Beat Your Neighbor Fertilizer” is a product inspired by commentary on the large handing baskets on display.

Ten years ago, customers would come to the business and ask how they got their hanging baskets to a six-foot diameter. When customers realized it was their concoction of ingredients, they wanted to buy some for their gardens at home.

Originally, the fertilizer was sold in small bags for customers who came into the greenhouse, but as the tourist season flourished, so did sales.

During the pandemic, Scott and Amy started posting answers to common questions posed to them in the greenhouse. These videos have grown far beyond either of their wildest dreams. “We’re teaching people all over the country, well, actually all over the world. And, you know, we’re promoting that if they learn how to care for their plants, it helps our entire industry because then they’ll go back to their local greenhouses,” explained Amy Sharkey. She continued to explain that some of these local greenhouses use the videos as training modules for new employees.

A part of the business that Amy and Scott Sharkey continue to implement is creating the small-town family environment that they hope their viewers feel through their screens.

The videos have been able to translate to sales for the business and visits from long-distance travelers. Scott Sharkey said, “It’s just amazing that we don’t expect people to show up from 14 hours away, but they do. And they message us. They email us. They’re like, ‘we’re coming from Pennsylvania. We’re coming from Iowa. We’re coming from Ohio. We’re coming from Nebraska. We’re booking a room. We want to come see you.’ And it’s just awesome to see that now.” With interest all over the United States, the Sharkey's have been going through all the proper procedures to send their product anywhere and everywhere they can.

The amount of paperwork and licensing has become one of the hidden challenges the business must endure, as each state has different protocols that need to be completed monthly. Amy Sharkey said this is one of the great parts of their partnership because she enjoys the paperwork and business aspects due to her degree in marketing.

With Amy taking over the marketing and business paperwork, Scott can focus on the greenhouse and perfecting their products. The pair collaborates on the expansive work that goes into the other side of their business in filming, editing and creating content to post online for viewers.

The effort put into their online presence has allowed them to earn an award and reach a younger generation. Skarkey’s Greenhouses on YouTube received the play button for 100,000 subscribers, which catches the eye of young customers. Amy Sharkey said, “It’s amazing to me that every single kid that has entered our greenhouse this year, put up on our wall from little to, you know, teenager, every single one of them stops and they say, ‘How did you get that?’ ... That next generation is the ones coming around to be the new purchasers -- the new buyers.” The play button also creates a spark in conversation with the younger generation because many of them want to know their online story of success.

As their business has grown, the couple has created avenues that build on each other and create further awareness of their brand. “The businesses all play into each other. Without the greenhouses, we wouldn’t have the videos, and without the videos, the fertilizer wouldn’t have exploded as much, so they all play into each other,” explained Scott Sharkey. With the volume of success branching in many different directions, the pair had to decide to close their flower shop a year ago to focus on the larger and more successful aspects of their business.

“It’s, really, big picture. It’s the picture of focusing more on the videos, and we are reaching the world. We didn’t reach the world with our floral shop,” said Scott Sharkey.

Moving forward Amy and Scott Sharkey want to continue to dream big. “The videos are fun for us to do, and the greenhouse ties into that. We’re both workers,” explained Amy Sharkey. Scott Sharkey added, “A million subscriber plaque would be nice on the wall.”

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