I started He Sells These Shells in the Spring of 2010 after finding myself without a job, and the prospects of finding a good job at the age of 62 bleak. When I used the shells years ago I found them to be a great product and felt I could find a good market for them.
Along with individual sales, my first year was spent finding Farmers Markets where I could sell bagged shells. Participating in the Markets over the years, I have discovered I really enjoy the interaction with the people, and look forward every Spring to seeing my fellow vendors and Market friends who return every year.
As business grew I knew I had to find help to fill the 25 pound bags, and asked the son of a neighbor for help. After a couple of hours of filling the bags with dust pans the young man said he had an idea. When he returned, he had created a perfect funnel for the job. He had cut out the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket. When he slipped the bag around the bucket we found that with one mighty scoop he could fill the bag to the appropriate amount. Now all of my “bag Fillers’ are using this technique and are able to fill as many as 75 bags, or more an hour. As I pay them $0.40 per filled bag, they are doing pretty well.
Most of my bag fillers have many school and sports and family activities which limit their ability to hold down a job with regular hours. Since they can come here to fill bags whenever their schedule allows, it is a Win/Win for both of us.
I currently sell bags at five area Farmers Markets as well as about half a dozen events such as the Spring Garden Fair, in Canby, The Woodland Tulip Festival, Gardenpalooza and more. You can also see my 40 retail establishments by clicking on the “Where to Buy” page.
All of the bags we sell are biodegradable and closed with plastic zip ties so the bags don’t need to be cut open to release the shells. About 75% of the bags I sell at Farmers Markets or through Craig’s List are returned to be reused as are about 25% of those sold to retailers. This not only results in the bags not ending up in the landfill, but also cuts down on production costs.
Also, all deliveries are made using my Ford Transit Connect van which means they are loaded and unloaded by hand with as many as 300 bags delivered a day during the height of the season…….as much as 13,000 pounds of shells in a day’s work. Whew!
While I might not be making anything near what I had been making during my 37 year career in Land Use Planning and Land Development I am having a lot more fun and hope to continue having as much fun for as long as possible.