I have a ‘proper job’. However I counterbalance the stress, travel and rigours by gardening in a small way, in nice gardens, for people I like. A couple of years ago, I decided that the winter months were too long to do without some horticultural activities and I was also thinking out marketing opportunities.
I had been reading about mistletoe as a very English tradition at Christmas in Adam Phillip’s fantastic essay 'On Kissing’, Tickling and Being Bored' and realised that I never saw nice mistletoe anymore at Christmas. After a bit of Googling, I decided to sell mistletoe at local Christmas market. I realised I needed some public liability insurance (costs about £25) as there is a risk that someone may hurt themselves with a bunch of mistletoe. This isn't as silly as it sounds as someone might ingest a berry.
My initial thoughts were to make huge, complicated decorations but about 10 minutes of messing about changed my mind. I decided to make life as simple as possible and to sell small bunches. Selling loose mistletoe would be hard to quantify and any profit hard to measure. Unfortunately, the first year, this was a guess. I ordered a decent sounding quantity and hoped for the best. Last year, I had a years experience and so this was my approach:
I ordered 20 kg. This is roughly two big boxes. I decided that this should be delivered as near to the market day as possible, so the mistletoe looks really fresh and will last until Christmas. The market is two weeks before Christmas Day and so this is a real consideration. I decided to make the bunch big enough to be attractive but small enough not to be obtrusive in a home. When the boxes arrive, there are always one or two really beautiful boughs which simply cannot be cut up and those sell for £5-10, depending on size.
I work in my very cold garden shed on my long potting bench, as to bring the mistletoe inside will start to affect it. I work quickly with secateurs and cut the mistletoe into small sprigs. Each small bunch will have 2-3 sprigs tied with an elastic band. I tried using string but life is short. These bunches sell in Northumberland for £2.50. The stall starts at 9 a.m. and I'm usually sold out by 2 p.m. I gave discount for bulk and every bunch was put into a big paper bag (cost about 1 p each if you buy in bulk from a specialist manufacturer).
The Mistletoe Lady of Northumberland!
You will inevitably have some small pieces which cannot be tied into bunches. Don't throw them away! I popped them into an attractive box and sold them for 10-20 p as some people don't want a bunch but can be tempted into a little piece for office parties which are simply as a laugh. That helped with waste and I composted only 300 g out of the original delivery.
I hung a big bunch up on the stall for people to practice under and was a good laugh!
I dressed up a bit and wore my big tweed coat and a pretty dress, bright red lipstick and this seemed to really add to the stall! This is my third year and I'm known as ‘The Mistletoe Lady'. It is simply a nice day but you can ask friends, family or (in my case) long suffering partners to help at lunchtimes or for loo breaks as it could be a cold day.
Be prepared to give people advice on how to keep it fresh - my advice is to plunge the bunch into water when they get home and keep it somewhere cool, like a garage or a shed and this should keep the mistletoe fresh.
The re-selling of mistletoe in the weeks leading up to the festive season of Christmas can certainly earn some extra cash.
It is also a good way for people to raise money for charitable and other good cause that they wish to support.
Below one of our re-sellers has recounted her experiences for your benefit. If you would like to become a re-seller feel free to contact us to discuss.