A couple decades ago we were bicycling through our hometown and passed by the old high school drive-in haunt, where an old man sat smoking a cigar alongside his wife. He hailed us, waved us in, and gregariously began telling us of his new restaurant plans. “Mama Mia’s” would be Italian, of course, and as if reading our questioning minds went on to tell us that he knew it was a terrible location, not only because it was off the beaten path but because it was in a town of diner-food and chain restaurant lovers, but because the price was right, a fraction—a small fraction--of what an equivalent place would be either north or south twenty miles in towns five to ten times as large where foodies might actually appreciate his fare.
He had never had a restaurant, was a retired opera singer. His wife had been a professional figure skater, and both came from New York—we never learned why they picked Idaho as a retirement place. He said he knew they were going to “take it in the shorts” for awhile, but they intended to give it three years before they gave up from failure or continued because of success.
It took a couple years to take off. He quickly realized trying to serve the nearby high-schoolers conflicted with serving high end customers, that cooking fast food and slow food simultaneously was just too hard, so he dropped the young crowd in favor of the older. They ironed out their service problems—juggling time and customers doesn’t come easy to the untrained. Little by little, through word of mouth, the place started filling up, and on any given night you’d see a parking lot of cars with license plates from counties twenty miles away or more—and every once in awhile one with a plate from our county (local clientele never did catch on).
If you’re a new grower in his or her first three or four years, you’d be ahead to take a page from the DiStefanos at Mama Mia’s. Just as very few restaurants succeed initially, few flower farms are likely to make it. If a flower farm was like Ikea furniture, coming with an instruction sheet and instant success for those with rudimentary skills, everyone would have one—and no one would consequently need one. It takes time to find one’s market, time to iron out the bugs, and still you might easily fail. Be patient, take feedback, keep nosing around like a rat into every dark hole.