Cathy Essigmann did not know that a trip to Renninger's Flea and Farmer’s Market in Melbourne, Florida in 2004 would change the direction of her life. Cathy cared for a few plants at home but did not consider herself a gardener by any stretch of the imagination. A curly xerographica air plant at the flea market caught her eye and she decided she had to have one. This plant seemed so exotic and unique, like nothing she had seen before. Plants that needed no soil? (Sign me up!) Plants that get their water and nutrients through their leaves rather than their roots? How unusual!
The vendor told her to ignore the plant. He said she would be more likely to over-care for the plant than neglect it. Cathy took the advice to heart and hung the xerographica on a fence in her backyard in Florida. After a few months she noticed that the plant seemed to be dormant. It was not growing or dying, but it was not blooming or thriving either. She decided to start researching these exotic plants and how to care for them. Within a few weeks she had coaxed a bloom out of the plant and two pups! Cathy was hooked now!
In 2004 there were no retail websites dedicated to air plants. A few people sold them on Ebay and Amazon and a few wholesalers had informational websites but no means of purchasing online. Cathy decided to go big and ordered a large wholesale order from a grower. She knew very little about the different types of air plants so she simply purchased based on the photos provided by the grower. After several orders she had a substantial collection! Her husband encouraged her to try to sell some before their home was overflowing with them. She easily sold most of the plants on Ebay and decided to take it to the next level.
In March 2005 Cathy purchased her own website and began to build AirPlantCity.Com, the first retail website dedicated to air plants. This was the one and only website that you could purchase air plants from in the United States! Later that year, she started referring her Ebay customers to her website. Over the next few years AirPlantCity.Com became one of the premier sources of information about the care and growing of air plants and one of the largest retailers too! She built her business with a high level of customer care. Cathy was always available to answer questions by phone or by email and that set her apart from the competitors that followed the path she had forged online.
We were one of those competitors. AirPlantShop.Com went live in March of 2012. We also sold on Amazon and Ebay and had been in contact with Cathy for several years. When she decided to retire in 2016 she offered the ‘City’ to us and we jumped at the chance. I am the proud new owner, Scott James. My operations manager Christian has been with us since his sophomore year in college and my sister Jody started out shipping plants for me and now handles customer service, inventory and oversees order fulfillment for us. Together, we hope to provide the same high level of customer service to our clients that Cathy had for so many years.
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