Glenn Stokes, owner of Stokes Tropicals in Jeanerette, La., has been a tropical plants enthusiast for decades. He has offered tropical plants online since 1996 through Stokes Tropicals, his mission being that “wonderful, exotic tropical plants should be available and accessible to everyone,” including “the average gardener,” according to the company's website. As retirement nears and operating costs continue to rise, Stokes decided it was time to part ways with the online business and the domain name Plants.com.
“In general, people are not as excited as they were 20 to 30 years ago about tropical plants. In the 1970s and ’80s they were more novel, whereas now they are more common,” Stokes says.
Stokes recently reached a deal with 1-800-Flowers.com to sell the coveted domain name to the online florist for $450,000.
“$450,000 is certainly a newsworthy amount,” says Andrew Allemann, editor of DomainNameWire.com, who published an interview with Stokes about the deal Dec. 11. “Seventeen domains have sold for at least $500,000 this year.”
According to Allemann, the median price for a domain sale is under $5,000, but the best ones sell for a lot more.
With the deal now complete, a spokesperson from 1-800-Flowers.com says the company is excited to add the URL to its collection.
“Plants are an important and growing part of our business,” according to a spokesperson from 1-800-Flowers. “Now, Plants.com is among the 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc. portfolio of URLs.”
Stokes explained that another reason for his decision is the fact that tropical plants are now being supplied from warmer spots of the U.S. to big box stores across the U.S. and Canada. This makes it tough for his business to compete as an independent, he says.
“Heating the greenhouse in the winter is also a big expense,” Stokes says. “My kids are more interested in the landscaping side of the business, but we will still advise on tropical plants and partner plants.”
Stokes, who has written numerous books about tropicals, started with a print catalog of tropical plants which included common names and picture descriptions to accompany each plant. As the years passed, postage and ink began to rise, and the introduction of the world wide web pushed his print catalog to digital.
Eventually, Stokes’ website and his investment in local advertising replaced the catalog. Now, Stokes feels that he has accomplished all he set out to do with tropical plants and is ready for the next chapter of his life.
“We felt like we hit on everything in the industry,” Stokes says. “We decided it was a good time to sell [the domain name] with my son taking over the landscaping end of the business, and I plan to assist him.”