Born in Melbourne in 2017. Josh had a Concussion & was forced into a 1-man lockdown where tending to his rare Plant Collection was one of the few things he could do. Being unable to run his design business & living in a Warehouse loft in Abbotsford Linda had the idea to throw a Warehouse Plant Party/Sale. It took off, 700 Customers turned up & we Sold out in 1 & a half hours. It was so busy people literally got stuck. So we knew we were on to a Winner, made some drastic improvements & 6 months later we expanded into Sydney. Sydney was 10x the scale, so we decided to roam Australia throwing plants sales & haven't looked back!
At the time Josh was struggling to recover from a Concussion (his 12th, mostly from Aussie Rules) and for 3 months he wasn’t able to look at screens, couldn’t read, couldn’t handle busy spaces, could do limited exercise and struggled with constant headaches, nausea, dizziness etc etc so in short one of the few things that was his pace during that time was gardening. Josh had a fairly substantial collection of rare plants and through this struggle the growth of his plants was often one of the few highlights of the day and something optimistic to appreciate. So having essentially not worked for 3 months Linda suggested the idea of using their Bohemian warehouse in Abbotsford, Victoria to throw a plant sale.
The idea of the Jungle was to combine our love of plants with our love of parties and fun. So on the 14th of October 2017, we woke to discover eager planty peeps queuing out the front of our warehouse 100m in both directions! Having no idea what we were doing we let everyone in and before long everyone was stuck! Being our first sale we also didn’t know how many plants to order or how many people would actually come. In the end we ran out of plants after only 1 and a half hours and guests were still queuing only to discover there was nothing left so we had to sincerely apologise and announce that we’d sold out. All in all everyone had a lot of fun and we managed to survive this initial chaos learning a heap and making some major improvements. We realised we were on to a good thing and The Jungle was born. We continued running our Abbotsford sales, constantly improving our range, meeting new growers and Josh began dabbling with his passion for rare plants.
6 months later we decided to launch a plant sale in Sydney. At the time we didn’t have a venue or anything locked in but we launched the event and it took off like nothing we’d ever seen. Turns out Sydneysiders really like plants! With a few weeks to go we finally locked in a venue (the media foolishly thought secret location was a marketing gimmick!), but the sale was becoming bigger than Ben Hur and we were freaking out. Like a scene from A Beautiful Mind we had maths equations coming out of our ears, how many plants can you fit per square metre, how many customers can each register person serve per hour, how many people can the space even fit!!!??? Days before the sale we’d wake in cold sweats at 4am realising our space wasn’t big enough! More marquees please! And how are we going to cater for so many eager plant people? In the end we realised that the only way this was going to work was to introduce tickets spacing the guests over the whole day avoiding thousands of people knocking (possibly rioting) on our doors first thing (again, the media thought this was a gimmick). At this stage Josh was still struggling pretty badly recovering from his concussions and in hindsight it’s hard to know how he even got through but there is no rest for the wicked! A lot of the layout structures which became hallmarks of our sales were invented on the fly during the mountain of work which was this sales setup. In this first sale we also lucked out with a great team and especially meeting a strong Russian work-horse by the name of Mila! If she could survive the madness which was this setup and actually want to come back for more we knew we’d found a gem and she went on to become our first Event Manager. A surprise to all of us, the day went off without a hitch and all those hours with eyes glued to a calculator had paid off. Saturday night another load of plants arrived and we called it a day at about 3am once again filling the space, ready for an 8am start. The weather had been kind to us, everyone had a heap of fun and Sydney quickly became a second home for us.
We moved into a permanent space in St Peters and to celebrate we launched the Rare Plant Corner, which has become something of a trademark of our sales. The demand for rare was astounding. For one sale a lot of our rare plants got stuck at a Brisbane depot with the freight company telling us they can’t help. Knowing how much these meant to our hardcore planty friends we found someone with a van and paid him to drive overnight delivering the plants to our sale arriving only a couple of hours late. There’s no length we won’t go for rare because we know you care!
6 months later we launched an event in Adelaide and once again the excitement was real! We had an incredible space at Plant 4 and it made for some knockout sales, which tied in nicely with the neighbouring markets and stalls. We also discovered Adelaidians say Plaants, not plAnts. ⛪️
Perth was next on the radar and Perth took Plant Crazy to a whole new level. With such strict quarantine regulations the expectations for our rare offering were large. During the sale guests were actually following Josh knowing he was going to bring out more rare plants at some point and when he did he was mobbed. His trays of rare plants were empty before taking even 2 steps towards the Rare Plant Corner. We quickly figured out how W.A’s quarantining worked and before long were able to bring more and more rare plants over from the East satisfying at least a small speck of the West’s rare plant appetite. Our Perth sales were also a great excuse to spend more time with Granny, although she no doubt started to regret that when we threw a clearance sale at her house! 94 years young, what a trooper!
Then it was off to Brissie, where the suns always shining, well that was until it bucketed cats and dogs in the last few hours of our first sale, taking out our lights and music and flooding much of our marquee covered sale. Once again enthusiasm was high though and it wouldn’t be a Jungle without an Amazon style river sweeping past the registers! Most growers being based in Queensland it became a huge benefit to all of our sales spending more time up there, improving relationships and our range. We also entered a few collaborations bolstering our rare offering, which continue to get better and better.
Then Canberra – the mother of all mothers. We got the biggest warehouse we’d ever had so for the first time ever we decided not to limit the number of spots. Safe to say half of Canberra was at that first sale and we were working like headless chooks trying to keep up with the restocking! The Canberra sale was by far the biggest risk we’d ever taken and it was a huge relief that our ordering proved accurate. Not only that, after setting up so many thousand plants the idea of loading thousands back into racks might have just about killed us!
Next was our first Suburban sale in Mentone, Melbourne where we grew up and to all of our surprise it became the biggest Melbourne sale we’d ever had.
Then we were off to the Gold Coast, Geelong and Newcastle, which like Canberra, half the city popped down!
We thought the first 2 years were crazy and then Covid slapped us across the cheek to show us what real crazy was all about. Loving Italy we were keeping an eagle eye as the pandemic swept through forcing the Country into lockdowns. Seeing the writing on the wall (being a business that runs busy events) we worked like we’d never worked before, building an online shop from scratch in 2 weeks with hundreds of products and launched without missing or delaying an event. Aaaaahh job done we thought. Then Crash! The website traffic was so large that the website couldn’t cope. With 3 sales intended to go on simultaneously we had to space out the starting time of 2 events until the traffic started to spread out and the web hosting had been adequately upgraded. So there we were thinking we were fighting tooth and claw to save the business and it turned out the online sales were 10x the size of our physical sales at that time. Had a physical sale that we’d been running for over 2 years grown so much from week to week it would have thrown up challenges but to grow so quickly in essentially a completely new business model threw up a plethora of new challenges. For one, all of our attention had been directed to building a large functioning Ecommerce website. Now we had to create our own freight company from scratch, create new processes for every aspect, every team member was thrown into a new role, every aspects was 3 times more time consuming and we still had online sales to prepare for for the following weekends. What’s worse, preparing online sales required 3 times the space so we basically needed to organise a new warehouse for every city. Our expectation were perhaps 50 orders per city, the reality was closer to 800. A lot had to be figured out on the fly. Departments like online Customer Service, which for physical pop-up sales was all very self-explanatory & therefore only received a handful of enquires was now receiving 400 a day. So our Online Customer service team grew 5-fold within a couple of weeks. As though that wasn’t enough to manage, after a few weeks we realised that one of our new delivery drivers was stealing the last 5 orders of every run and was indicated to us that they’d been delivered. Our initial Online sales were very much a precision project as we were ordering exact to what we’d sold so replacements could require 10 different growers, sending new plants, new freight, more time, empty racks, added complexity and all the rest of it. These missing orders also led to more Customer Service and agitated customers & it took us a few sales before we finally pieced together what was happening. So then we needed to implement extra processes we hadn’t even considered to safeguard against dishonest drivers etc etc.
So the initial online sales were far from perfect, in many ways a victim of their own success but we were determined to keep bringing peeps the plants during this really testing and stressful time. Josh having previously gone through a One-man lockdown with his Concussion, he knew firsthand how important and positive plants can be through testing times so we were determined to smooth every aspect.
Eventually we shifted our model to pre-order all plants, which meant we could deliver much quicker, be confident of every plants quality and avoid any shortages (growers saying they had something, then 3 days later saying actually they don’t etc). By the end of our online sales they were starting to run like a well oiled machine and certainly opened our eyes to the potential of online.
So now we enter what is perhaps phase 3 of The Jungle, navigating through FOGO (fear of going out), integrating an online and physical experience & doing what we can to revolutionise the Plant World. We’re excited to launch a permanent online store, including The Jungle Box. So here’s to the next chapter!
It’s been a crazy ride so far, thanks so much for being an integral part of it! We’re always looking to keep improving and most of our best ideas come from you, our loyal customers so we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve got feedback or ideas get in touch or if you’ve got a Unicorn Plant you’d like us to hunt down and add to our line-up send through your list.
Until next time Planty Peeps, let’s get ready to Rumble!
Love the Jungle