Wouldn’t it be great if garden seeds were something people grabbed at a shop’s checkout, the way they do a pack of gum or other impulse items? A new San Francisco Bay Area start-up is hoping to make this the case with its SeedTabs seed packets. You will find their organic seed displays in places you would never expect to see them: at the checkout counters of coffee shops, bookstores and toy stores.
Founded by brothers Wyatt and Will Roscoe, SeedTabs has a goal that is certainly a laudable one. “Our mission is to get more people growing, whether on their windowsills, in their backyard or on their walk to work,” Wyatt told Organic Connections. “Through our method, we’re just making it easier. We’ve heard back from many people who said they’ve been meaning to grow but hadn’t made the commitment to go to a hardware store. They see our seeds and buy them.”
And buy them, people do: SeedTabs has been a runaway success. Starting out locally in Berkeley, SeedTabs can now be found in eight cities across several states, and many more are in the offing.
An accident of fate
Wyatt and Will have always gardened, having been originally inspired by their mother, who maintained a vegetable garden throughout their entire upbringing. Last year a total fluke—resulting from their gardening efforts—provided the inspiration for SeedTabs. “My brother ordered way too many seeds for our garden,” Wyatt related, laughing. “So that they wouldn’t go to waste, we began handing them out to friends and family. At first the reaction was, ‘What are you handing me? This is very random.’ But when people understood that they were basil seeds or kale seeds, everybody that we were talking to said, ‘Oh, I’ve got a perfect spot for those! I’ve been meaning to plant!’”
The brothers realized that if people could just encounter seeds more, they would likely be inspired to start growing. It was then a question of finding the best channels. “We engaged in a lot of trial in searching for the right distribution method.” They finally hit upon the correct model—and at the same time discovered just how successful it could be. “We approached a coffee shop, and they offered to give it a trial period. They sold out within a week.”
Further research determined that the best outlets to sell the seeds are coffee shops, bookstores and toy stores. SeedTabs can now be found in close to sixty locations in the West, as well as Austin and Houston, Texas, and the brothers hope to be in several thousand by late spring. SeedTabs products can also be ordered direct online through the company’s website.
In addition to the standard SeedTabs displays, businesses can personalize SeedTabs packets with their own name. “They are being used as business cards for real estate agents, dropped in the place of mints at high-end restaurants, and are even perfect wedding invitations,” Wyatt said. “They’re a great way to brand any company as sustainable.”
Goal of getting people started
The Roscoes acknowledge that SeedTabs isn’t out to become the “go-to” for people searching for seeds. Instead, the brothers intend SeedTabs to serve as a catalyst for getting people into growing. “We’re not competing with Burpee or other big seed companies,” Wyatt pointed out. “The people that are buying our seeds are oftentimes new customers. We only offer four varieties of seeds: red Russian kale, sweet basil, cilantro and a shade wildflower assortment. We still see this as a success, because we’re getting consumers into gardening, and promoting sustainability. Even if they leave and go on to other companies, we’ve started something that is beneficial for everybody.”
SeedTabs is swiftly expanding and Wyatt and Will are ensuring it won’t slow down. “We are building a team right now of representatives that are talking to local businesses across the country,” explained Wyatt. “They’re going to coffee shops and stores, talking to owners and offering a display of SeedTabs. A rep can order right from his or her phone through an app that we built. In the coming months we are aiming to have a team of several hundred representatives talking to local businesses, and be nationwide by the end of spring.”