Baobab Bonsai

Specializing in the import and sales of large, specimen quality Adansonia Digitata from Africa facebook.com/baobab...

What's the big idea?

The Baobab is universally sought after as a bonsai subject, while extremely adaptable and easy to care for, as evidenced by the fact that I am based here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Dubbed the tree of life, it sustains those who live amongst it in myriad ways.  It’s legends are legion.  I know of no other bonsai species that evokes such an emotional response or gives such satisfaction to those who own one.  I cannot keep enough in stock.  The Boabab can live an estimated 6000 years,  making the Baobab Bonsai literally a living family heirloom that can be passed down for many generations.

Describe the nearest player in your field.

There really isn’t one.  Adansonia Digitata are next to impossible to find in the United States in these sizes and of this quality.  There are a couple business who offer one or two for sale.  I truly see an opportunity to bring to market on a large scale a highly desirable and rarely found product.

How are you different from that player?

Specialization.  My sales plan involves keeping a stock of Baobabs that runs the gamut from seedlings up to the largest size legal for import.  Anyone will be able to afford a Baobab.  The universal appeal allows for specialization to enable an investor to exit profitably as well.

How's the world different with your idea in it?

The United States is an as yet untapped market for these beautiful trees.  The company I import from adheres to fair trade practices for all its employees and are an accepted member of the International Fair Trade Association.  Grand Rapids as the Baobab capitol of America,  I love the irony.

Why are you the one to run with this idea?

I’ve cultivated a relationship with the exporters since the inception of sales to the U.S., as well as USDA inspectors, who now know me by the sound of my voice from asking so many questions.  A greatly expanded stock and a greenhouse will enable me to explore many new markets, sales will explode.

There have been 40 replies to this idea

  1. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    I’ve been importing Baobabs for four years now, and I just can’t keep up with demand.  The exporter has agreed to utilize freight shipping, which will drive down my costs and greatly reduce my losses.  However, to use freight,  I must place much larger orders at one time.  Also,  a greenhouse would extend my growing, and therefore my sales season substantially on each end- Spring and Fall.  Thank you for looking.  Christopher Huggins

  2. Stubby Young

    I really like this idea and think it would be a great start. The fact about using Fair Trade practices is important.
    Can purchases be made through your facebook website?
    Good Luck

  3. Amanda Jean Huggins

    Sure.  You can reach me via the FB site or through my sales email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  I will be starting a sales website here shortly.  It will be www.baobabbonsai.com   Look for it in the next couple weeks.  Until then,  I will be posting some trees on EBAY.  My username is, of coarse baobabbonsai   Thanks “stubby”

  4. Stubby Young

    What a great idea!!

  5. JoLean Smith

    I fully endorse this idea and good luck!!

  6. Kelly McDonald

    What a neat idea!!

  7. Liza Wallner

    The baobab I purchased fom Chis is amazing. It looks like a mini version of the full grown tree. This is quite different from the spindly seedlings or seeds that most offer for sale here in the states.

    The other reason to purchase from Chris is because his business uses fair trade practices. Not only will Importing baobab trees safeguard this wonderful species for future generations but this business will benefit the people who raise and bring these specimens to market for plant enthusiasts everywhere to enjoy.

    Vote for Baobabbonsai!!!

  8. Bianca LaFountain

    I think this is a wonderful idea.  The baobab tree always reminds me of my favorite book, The Little Prince.  It would be awesome to let people in America own a physical reminder of perhaps one of the best children’s books of all time.

  9. Jack Kelly

    Wow, I love these trees they are so cool.  They really bring me inspiration to the mind and body.  I am really impressed with the level of thought and compassion that Chris has shown in making sure these trees stay with us for future generations but what a cool story to tell your children on how these trees came to be. 


    Vote for Baobbonsai!!!!

  10. Lisa Fantucchio

    I ENDORSE THIS FULLY!!!! AWESOME JOB CHRIS!!!!

  11. Saul Gray-Hildenbrand

    Beautiful trees, but was looking for something that could live for maybe 7,000 to 8,000 years

  12. Mykel-Phoenix Tinez

    I think this is an awesome idea!!! fully endorse it…GOOD LUCK!!!!

  13. Jacob Aaron Schiftan

    How are you going to make money from repeat customers? It would seem to me that if the trees last for 6,000 years, then nobody will have to buy more than one. Well, not for 6,000 years at least.

  14. Amanda Jean Huggins

    It’s funny you should mention that.  A good deal of my sales are from repeat business.  I have a woman in Illinois who has purchased a Jumbo sized baobab three years in a row.  The issue is not utilitarian, having one until it wears out.  People who own them see them as having a personality, as being more than just plant material.  It is much like having a dog or cat.  Do people limit themselves to one?  almost never.  A gentleman in South Carolina, a week after his purchase, sent me a message stating that his tree “needs a brother”.  A large part of my business are repeat purchases.  Thanks for the question.  Christopher

  15. Brian Glowe

    It’s great you have such an intense interest from consumers.  I worry, though, about the potential harm these exotic species may do to our native land.  History and science has proved to us many times over that introducing exotic species for any purpose can be detrimental to an ecosystem.  Michiganders should know better than this!  Earthworms, zebra mussels, and the looming Asian carp outbreak, all should serve as reminders.  Maybe, just maybe, we should keep nature where it wants to be and allow it do what it does naturally (and successfully).

  16. Scott Zomerlei

    I got my first Baobab 2 years ago and I must say I’ve put it through all the perils possible from squirrels to vacations, and it’s still thriving a getting bigger by the year.  Being able to appreciate these exotic trees up close and watch them grow is a real pleasure keep up the good work!

  17. Amanda Jean Huggins

    These trees are for containerized growing, not for the landscape.  Adansonia Digitata is a desert succulent which will never survive left outdoors during the winter months, even in the American desert, which gets far too cold at night.  It needs to be brought in whenever temps dip below 50 degrees.  Adansonia digitata is NOT an invasive species.  My trees are imported legally, having to pass rigorous USDA inspection before allowed to enter the country.  They are brought in with no soil, no leaves,  and their root system is washed and sanitized before export.  Your bonsai is absolutely NOT going to sow it’s seeds in your garden and somehow magically take over the countryside in Michigan.  That is a silly notion.  Invasive species of plants and animals are a very serious concern and an issue to be dealt with vigilantly, but to think that Adansonia Digitata might pose some threat to our ecology in any way is fantasy.  Keeping a Baobab as a bonsai is PERFECTLY SAFE in every way.

  18. Zach Berger

    You are distributing a tree… is this really considered a startup idea?? I feel like start garden is a very inappropriate vehicle for your distribution venture. This is not innovative at all and requires no production or development, all you need to do is package a tree.

  19. Zach Berger

    You are distributing a tree… is this really considered a startup idea?? I feel like start garden is a very inappropriate vehicle for your distribution venture. This is not innovative at all and requires no production or development, all you need to do is package a tree.

  20. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Hello Zach.  I apologize if my business idea does not make you feel as though I reinvent the wheel.  However,  I feel that bringing a product to market that scarcely exists currently and is highly sought after is exactly innovative.  Also, there is currently no authoritative source of accurate care information consolidated into a single location regarding growing parameters and care for baobabs.  I have worked for a few years now to compile the best information available from disparate and scattered sources.  There are still, I feel, many innovations to be made concerning this species, as there have been in general succulent cultivation in the last decade or so.  My intention is to promulgate reliable information into a centralized location via my sales and information website, so there is clearly an element of development in my business idea.  I don’t think it is at all accurate to say that all I will be doing is to package a tree.  Thanks for your thoughts though.  Chris

  21. Evelyn Skultety

    Good idea. Good luck.  I did not know this was available
    I will look into getting one to keep my cactus company.

  22. Dallas Holland

    This is really a cool idea. I would be very interested in learning more about Baobab Bonsai trees and how to care for them.  I think it would be awesome to have more accessw to these in the U.S..

  23. Jimmy Johnson

    I also agree that this is a really good venture, much interest has been shown in Adansonias in recent years but not much is on the market except seedlings and small specimens that take many years to grow into impressive plants. The best of luck to you in your endeavor!

  24. Lori Leonard

    cool idea!

  25. Tipsy McStagger

    Hi unlike Zach, i don’t care if you are especially innovative, it bothers me that you have such a niche market. It does not meet the criteria of scalability set forth by the Startgarden staff. How many people grow bonsai in the united states? I am a 50 year old educated middle class guy, and my wife is a master gardener…yet i have only known ONE guy that grows bonsais. I have met more bagpipers and fencers than i have met bonsai hobyists.  It is hard to find details on how many people grow bonsai, but i did learn that Puget Sound has one of the biggest bosai growers clubs in the country…365 members. That is in a region with a poulation of 4.1 million people. That means that in puget sound 1 in 11thousand people are bonsai hobbyists that joined the club.

    So, ok, maybe not all people who grow bonsai joined the club…maybe only half did. 1 in 5500 is NOT enough of a target market to make a business that can grow beyond a sole proprietorship.

  26. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Hello Tipsy.  While at first glance your breakdown of the numbers might impress one as bleak,  consider that if your math were applied on a grand scale, the United States population for instance, that I would stand to sell over 60,000 trees, so I have to disagree with your assertion that this would not constitute enough sales to grow beyond a sole proprietorship.  My idea is not so ubiquitous in it’s appeal as pizza, beer, or apparently even male genital deodorant (1/2 the population DOES have one of those).  However, I feel my idea has merit, and is surely a money maker.  I have been growing bonsai for quite some time, and I do not belong to a bonsai club.  This owes more to the fact that I simply don’t have the desire to be a member of a club.  It should not be seen as a lack of interest in bonsai on my part.  My guess is that very few who grow bonsai belong to clubs.  My plan is to get these onto the shelves in plant shops and garden centers as well.  The Baobab can remain dormant for up to five months and I have packaging which will make for a tidy retail product.  They are super easy to care for and I am sure you would agree on the mass appeal and enormous market of potted house plants.  That is what this could be, this is what I am envisioning.  Not that everyone will own one, but that is true of any plant species.  I would just like to get as large a share of that as I may.  Thanks

  27. Tipsy McStagger

    No, It doesn’t mena that you would sell over 60000 trees. That is ridiculous.  there are approximately 311million people in the US.  If one in 5500 are potential customers, that means you have a target market of 56545 people nation wide. Now OBVIOUSLY you aren’t going to sell EVERY one of those people a tree.

    if you were a marketing GOD and you sold 10% of your target market a tree you would sell 5645 trees. 

     

  28. Tipsy McStagger

    And you are right…my numbers are BS. A business plan is usually an educated guess anyway. But when you are developing a financial feasibility report you have to make an educated guess as to how much you can sell. The only way to do that is to determine the size of your target market, and then figure out how much penetration you can get into that target market.

    I don’t actually know how many people grow bonsai. I am making a guess. If you don’t like that number double it. It still sucks.

  29. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Alrighty then.  Thanks for your opinion little fella!

  30. Jay Frankhouse

    Have you considered expanding into other species of hard to find flora? What about creating a product line extension of Baobab Bonsai apparel, etc.

  31. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Hello Jay.  Absolutely.  In the very near future, people in the United States will become much more aware of the various species of Baobabs and all that they have to offer us, not least of which is their aesthetic value.  I encourage anyone to google “baobab images” and to take a moment and learn about this species, which gives so much to humanity and tends to receive such uncaring treatment in return.  Jay, I am interested in several other species of rare and hard to find flora, but am currently focused on Adansonia Digitata sales at this time.  Others will follow when this gets off the ground.  When my website if fully operational,  I am planning on selling every implement necessary to care for your baobab, from an optimum potting mixture free from actual soil,  organic and chemical fertilizers,  specially shaped pots to house the trees, and yes,  I was hoping to sell books and shirts centered around Baobabs and other rare caudex forming plants.  Thank you for the constructive question.

  32. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Jay, to be mores pecific,  I also deal in large Adenium species(Obesum, Arabicum, Multiforum, etc).  They are sometimes associated with baobabs, although not taxanomically.  The French call them Baobab Chacal, which means baobab of the jackal.  I will post some picturesof them to my FB site   http://www.facebook.com/#!/baobab.bonsai  Thank you again.

  33. Nathan D. Bevilacqua

    I have been looking everywhere to find this tree and all i can find are seedlings or trees WAY over priced since they are so rare. Then I found Chris and he really seems to know what he’s are doing. I think this is a great idea and would really take off in the USA. I am only 23 years old and I have found more and more adults my age are starting to get into bonsai. We may not be part of clubs but whoever says bonsai isn’t big at all in the USA is wrong. Just eBay Bonsai Trees and you can see thousands for sale every day!

  34. Jose Escobar

    I fully endorsed this idea as it offers a unique product rare to find in this country. An good size clientele exist to support this business and its products. I have found them to be extremely reliable and responsible. Communication has been great. This is a very good venture destined for success

  35. Nathan D. Bevilacqua

    Just bought my Baobab off of Chris and I am more than pleased. The backing was great, the tree looks better than i thought it would. Its in healthy shape. I really do recommend anyone trying to buy this type of tree to buy it off of chris. He really helps you out to get the right feel for the tree you’d be most happy with. I stand by my original post and say this is a market just waiting to be tapped. I really think for the price he offers them with the amount of years they are. This is a great idea.

  36. Phil Threadgould

    I disagree with Tipsy a bit on the market size.  Get this on the shelf at a Home Depot or something and the demand will come.  I do have a question.  I Googled “baobab trees for sale” and discovered a lot of low cost seeds for sale.  Why do you need to import larger trees?  Why not just start as seeds?

  37. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Hello Phil.  Seeds of Adansonia Digitata are quite inexpensive,  and I do plan on offering them for sale as well, as seedlings are a joy also.  However, a seedling grown in almost every climate in the United States will yield a tree that is aesthetically much closer to that of a maple tree or perhaps a birch.  They will be long, spindly and would take decades to attain the girth or secondary characteristics of imports, if it ever were to happen.  We simply do not get the high temperatures (or light)required for extended periods of time in the complete absence of temps that ever drop below 50 degrees.  The baobab, as all pachycaul, develop the fattened belly, known as a caudex, to store great amounts of water as a measure of surviving the long dry spells they typically endure in the wild.  The trees I sell are a finished product,  or very close to one.  The tree you purchase will grow in height and girth very slowly and will only require shaping at the crown and an occasional repot.  The entire idea of bonsai, as I am sure you know is to shape the tree so that it is a miniaturization of a mature tree in the wild.  Secondary characteristics, such as proportionate, tapered branching, thickened bark and a buttressed, swollen trunk with a seedling might take 30 years, whereas a tree purchased from me may become a stunning bonsai specimen in just a few summers.  Thank you for your question.  Christopher   http://www.facebook.com/baobab.bonsai

  38. Dirk Terwel

    Hi Christopher,

    We are a company trading in the Baobab from different African countries. Can we be in touch via your direct business email address? kind regards

    Dirk Terwel

  39. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Hello Dirk.  You, or anyone interested in purchase or any other reason, can reach me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  I look forward to speaking with you.  Christopher

  40. Mufaddal Shabbir Hamid

    Hello Chris,  i am from the East Africa region and i have been in the Baobab business for 6 months now, and if all goes well i plan to export Baobab seeds very soon, not just the seeds but the Fruits too, it has so many benefits, for example just the fruit inside has 3 times more vitamin C then an Orange, the Baobab Fruit has a special name, known as the “SUPERFRUIT”, almost 5 times more nutritious than the Spinach! So if you really are interested in importing the seeds and the Fruits as well please do not hesitate to email me i am very sure we can work something out because where i live Baobab trees are in abundance, and we also make cooking oil from the seeds which is much much Healthier ofcourse, you can email me on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you are interested. Thanks.

  41. Baobab Bonsai

    Owner

    Hello Mufaddal.  I will absolutely be in contact with you.  Thank you.

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