Julie Beeson’s Annual Plant Sale – Frankfort, IL

On Saturday, Liz and I got up early to head down to Frankfort. The town had their annual garage sale, and for the past few years… Julie’s sold a lot of her plants during the event. Throughout the year she’s slowly tended to a small army of plants, and kept them warm and safe in the basement.

Over the years, Bob has helped construct a lot of custom shelving and lighting, allowing them to really maximize the space they have in the basement. The past few times I’ve been down there, calling it a greenhouse was an understatement.

But when the neighborhood garage sale rolls around, Julie’s got her plants out in the driveway… and let me tell you: people definitely swing by. She’s gotten a lot of compliments and attention for her yardwork and back yard (so much so that sometimes strangers driving by will get out of their cars, run up and take photos, and then leave).

This year, we decided to help out a little. In addition to the plants, Julie made up a few batches of her custom soil. She’s got a biochemistry background, and used to run soil samples for the farmers in the area… so she knows what she’s doing, here.

I helped try to create a bit of packaging for the soil, and incorrectly called it “dirt.” I was quickly corrected on this matter: “Dirt is what you sweep up off the floor.” Soil is something entirely different.

Julie’s soil (which we were unofficially calling “Orgnaic 22”), has over 22 ingredients in it, including things like: vermiculite, bat guano, earthworm casings, fish bone, and tons of other stuff. She also made up a spray (which we were unofficially calling “Plant Armor”), an organic citrus/pepper/soap solution that helped keep insects at bay. Both of these items were up for sale, along with the plants.

A big sign, leading the way. While other people had more of your typical garage sales going on, Julie’s was one of the few (only?) that was selling plants.

In addition to just plants that people could pot themselves, there were numerous pre-arranged and pre-potted things for sale.

Lines of stuff, all along the front driveway.

Huge rows of plants, packed deep. By the time noon rolled around, a lot of these guys were already gone.

I was surprised at how many people were really taken by these plants in shoes. Seriously – every fifth person walking by would say something about them.

Julie, helping people out with planting info and tips. During the day, she was a natural and seemingly in her environment – talking and chatting with people, answering questions, offering up advice on what to do and what to avoid.

I kept joking that if the driveway had a sign and a neon “Open” sign, this could have been a storefront.

Large racks and pallets of plants. Several of these were selling for $0.50 each (which to me was a steal).

A view of the driveway, looking out onto the street.

A huge row of plants that got cleared out pretty quickly, by mid-morning.

More plants, with Liz by the Soil/Spray are and Nancy working on collecting money. Nancy did a lot of footwork with Julie, and printed out tons of signs (with info and pricing) that definitely made things easier on Julie. Instead of having to answer pricing questions, she could just float around and focus on other things.

As with most garage sales, you get surprised at what people want to buy. In addition to the fountain and plants (in the middle, above) getting sold, someone also asked about buying the rug. Go figure.

A few hanging plants.

Several displays, along with a wicker table and seat.

A few other non-plant items were in the back as well. Most of these sold, though I think they priced things specifically to get them out the door. The bike they sold for $10 (I know – right?). A college kid bought it, and got it for a steal.

A few older items, along with some antique radios.

More items. Note the awesome backyard, in the distance.

A surprising thing we found out: the plant spray seemed to be a bigger seller than the soil. We also got a few people to sign up for an email list, so there may be a website or something in the works, for the future. I know that Julie gets a lot of people who come to this sale annually, and we were all wondering what we could do to make this more than a “once a year” thing.

Last I heard, someone called her the day after the sale… asking to buy more plant spray. Anyone else thinking an Etsy shop is in order?

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