This Saturday, a new store is opening up by the airport that is unlike anything else in town. While there may be other retail establishments that offer home décor items and live plants, the owner of Plants and Treasures says his store will fulfill a specific need in the Sarasota/Manatee market.
“The reaction of people here will be one of shock, because I will have the best florist-quality plants at the best prices,” Mike Bonk said. “I’m going to knock their socks off with the prices.”
Plants and Treasures, 7942 N. Tamiami Trail, will hold its grand opening at 9 a.m Saturday. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Bonk said that the way he is able to keep the costs so low on the live plants, pottery pieces and gift items he will sell, is because of the relationships he built with vendors during the 30 years he owned six similar stores in southern California.
“We had a really good run there,” he said. “Over the years, I’ve made contacts all over the country and traveled the world. The purchases we’ve made are crazy.”
How crazy? During the grand opening, while supplies last, Bonk is selling three-foot wide Boston ferns for $5.99 and six-inch glazed ceramic pots for $1.99. But those types of prices are what customers can expect every day at Plants and Treasures.
“We search all over the state and hand-pick Florida quality plants,” Bonk said. “The reaction of people will be shock, because I will have the best florist-quality plants at the best prices. I have no doubt people will look at this wonder how we can do it.”
It’s not just live plants that Bonk feels he offers the best quality and prices on, either. He said that when he and his wife Maria first moved to Sarasota two years ago, after selling their California business, he looked all over town for good pottery pieces at a reasonable price—and found the selection lacking.
In his newest store, Bonk plans to have a 2,000 square-foot pottery garden, just outside the 6,000 square-foot store. Outside, he will display the pottery pieces he has been importing for this store, though the sizable selection he has now is not nearly all of what he will eventually have.
“We’ll have all the pots in around the 10th (of October),” he said. “The hurricane in the Atlantic has slowed the shipping.”
Having had his retail plant and pottery business for so long, Bonk is very much aware of the value of loyal customers and good customer service. He touts his store’s customer service skills, even saying that if a customer brings in a plant and wants to transfer it to a new pot they’ve found at his store, his expertly-trained employees will do it for free. Or if they buy a plant at his store, and want the new plant potted, his staff will comply.
“We are there for the convenience of the customer,” he said. “Good customer service is an action you take, not a policy.”
Obviously, the Sarasota market is much smaller than the Orange County, California, market in which Bonk used to operate. But he said the size of the market here is one of the things that attracted him and his wife to the area.
“The community is really different here, but that’s why we moved here,” he said. “We recognize that being a part of the community is important here, and I expect their response to the business will be tremendous.”
For more information, please visit the website at www.plantsandtreasures.com.
Plants & Treasures
7942 N. Tamiami Trail
Hours: 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday