​An Interview With a Southern Woman Owned Business in Tennessee

Tammy Sons was born in 1969 in a small town called Altamont, Tennessee. She was the youngest of four children. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a nurseryman. Tammy’s father and mother were in the lower-income bracket, and many summers, Tammy remembers not having meat for days at a time and living off the family garden in warm months that her parents grew for food. She states, “there was not a lot of meat and junk food, but our mother always made sure we had three hot meals a day.”

When Tammy was 24, she went to beauty school and owned a successful beauty parlor in her small subdivision. She married young and had two children by the age of 24. Her husband Dennis was a logger, and she did hair in the evenings, weekends, and at night while he watched their two children. By age 30, Tammy had her third child, a daughter, and was beginning to get bored with fixing hair day in and out. She started peddling nursery plants on the side.

Tammy would hire someone to go with her and get plants and travel from nursery to nursery and resell them for a small profit. In 2004 Dennis and Tammy left their small subdivision and moved 12 miles away to a small 13 acres mini farm with barns and fields. It was like a breath of fresh air to their children. They had a pond residing on their property’s sides and room to roam and play without being in a crowded subdivision. They were thrilling days, Tammy recalls.

Dennis had a higher calling to quit his job and start growing their nursery stock in 2000, and they planted the entire 13 acres without planters or any heavy planting equipment. It was all done on their knees in rows planting each tree by hand. Later that year, in the fall, Tammy typed up price lists of their complete inventory. It sold in less than 19 days when she sent out a few flyers to some star nurseries, and a buyer from New Jersey came in and bought it all.

The mortgage was $74000.00, and they sold enough nursery stock to pay their mortgage off. They were in amazement that they could make such a good living from only growing their plants. A couple of years went by, and they found a larger farm and home back in the Altamont TN city limited and purchased it. This small farm had 56 acres and a lovely home on it. Soon they were moving and planting more stock on it and selling out of every single plant and tree they would produce.

In 2009 Tammy built her first website. Instead of selling to wholesale companies, they broadened their selling capabilities to retail so homeowners could purchase plants also on their eCommerce website https://www.tnnursery.net. Their business got so large with their small mail-order company; they decided to move to some vacant land for their packing warehouse on the main street to get all the traffic away from their home farm. They also had a website dedicated primarily to wholesale orders for large volumes at meager grower prices at https://www.wholesalenurseryco.com .

Today, Tammy’s nursery employs many families and people with jobs in the small area of Grundy County, Tennessee, and sells to over 90,000 people and a host of other businesses’. Tammy now runs one of the largest mail-order nurseries in the area, and having her nursery near the nursery capital of the world makes her able to source over 350 types of plants, trees, ferns, perennials, live stakes, mosses, and shrubs.

Originally published at https://www.tnnursery.net.