SANTA BARBARA, CA — Por La Mar Nursery is an example of a company that found a winning niche and built a business around it. Its patented mini-roses became hugely popular in the mid-1980s and it became one of the first to sell potted roses to supermarkets. Now it is adding a line of indoor plants in three-inch terra cotta and tin pots with “smart care tags” carrying real-time care information on QR codes.
The new line of miniatures includes colorful kalanchoe, gerbera, calla lilies and bromeliads. The offerings include seasonal items like Hearts N’ Roses with mini-roses and heart-shaped picks in red pot covers for Valentine’s Day, Endless Butterflies with red, yellow or pink mini-roses and butterfly picks in yellow and orange pot covers for summer and Santa and Snowman with holiday figurines, red and white mini-roses, and red and green pot covers.
Traci Kelemen, director of sales and marketing, regards the new line as boutique products. “They’re stylish in colorful, attractive pot covers or ceramic pots, but also affordable,” she said. “They fit the demographics our customers serve.” Calla lilies are also a big seller, she observed. “They’re big, colorful and have a long shelf life. Our potted callas will bloom for four to six weeks.” The company also owns Glad-A-Way Gardens, a gladioli grower in Santa Maria, CA.
Por La Mar (“by the sea”) lives up to its name on a sun-drenched slope a mile from the Pacific Ocean. Ms. Kelemen said the company sells cut gladiolus that are 100 percent American-grown and ships potted blooming plants to supermarkets, home and garden centers, and wholesalers. “Eighty-five percent of our customers are located from the West Coast to the Midwest,” she said. “Though we ship coast to coast, including Alaska, Hawaii and Canada.”
Getting customers to become regular, everyday buyers of flowers is a priority for Por La Mar, she said. Women’s Day on March 8 could help spur sales if properly promoted, she said. “If Women’s Day becomes recognized by Hallmark that would help.”