When Spinach Bus Ventures (SBV) formed in March of 2019, the five former Mount Vernon High School classmates, and now partners, knew they wanted to bring their collective experience in business, finance, and operations home to Skagit Valley-what they didn’t expect was to have to battle both the challenges of farming and then the COVID-19 restrictions mere days before opening their first season.
SBV intended to build on Tulip Town’s 36-year legacy of providing 100,000 guests a year a family-friendly, customer-centered, on-farm tulip experience and expand on the retail bulb and flower side of the business through e-commerce and an updated retail and nursery experience.
So what happens when the expected 100,000 guests are unable to visit the farm?
According to Tulip Town CEO/Farmer, Andrew Miller, “We’re in uncharted waters but we’ve got a solid ship and an extraordinary crew. We literally scrapped our entire business plan on Monday (March 16th) and started over. The only thing that didn’t change was our online bulb sales plan and our photography program. Nothing we are planning on doing now has been done before at Tulip Town. And we have less than a week before the tulips bloom. Couple these challenges with the fact we do 95% of our revenue in the next four weeks and you’ve got a compounded word problem of unusual uncertainties and extreme financial pressures that can either cripple and destroy or drive clarity and creativity. We’ve chosen clarity and creativity.”
As of March 20th, Tulip Town is making the following adjustments:
• We will be running a #ColorforCourage campaign where individuals or organizations can purchase tulip bouquets that we will deliver to hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities.
• We will be delaying the opening of our farm to the public until March 27th
• We will allow 50 people at a time in the barn (indoor display and retail area) and require all guests to adhere to appropriate social distancing protocols
• 50 field photography passes will be issued per day
• All Experience Pass participants will be required to wear gloves and maintain appropriate social distancing protocols
• We will be offering a “Tulip Safari” option for guests who wish to see the field and portions of the gardens from the comfort of their own vehicles (weather dependent)
• We will be offering drive-up options to purchase tulip bouquets, box meals, and Tulip Town merchandise. We have also expanded our online store to include Tulip Town merchandise.
• We will be live-streaming virtual reality tours of the fields and gardens, as well as daily field “walk and talks” with members of the Tulip Town Team in an effort to connect individuals who may be unable to enjoy the beauty of the bloom on site this year.
• We will be selling Tulip Town bouquets at pop-up sites in the local area as well as through the Puget Sound Food Hub into the Seattle Metro and Bellingham areas.
• We are inviting Tulip Town fans to “Become a Tulip Townie” by purchasing a “Tulip Townie Kit” that includes a special edition t-shirt, sticker, and commemorative “Together We Tulip” certificate. Program details will be available on our website.
• We will be offering a “What’s at Stake” program where fans of Tulip Town can purchase and dedicate actual field stakes to honor loved ones and like-minded organizations that would like to participate in getting Tulip Town through this unprecedented economic challenge.
• Our bulb ordering process has moved entirely online at www.TulipTown.com
• Official Tulip Town and Skagit Valley Tulip Festival merchandise will be available for purchase (and shipping) at www.TulipTown.com
We continue to evaluate new opportunities daily to connect tulip lovers with our fields and flowers and invite you to follow these discoveries at www.TulipTown.com and on our social media channels (Facebook @tuliptown; Instagram @tuliptownWA; YouTube @tuliptownWA; TikTok @tuliptownwa