US: Interview with Tammy Sons of Tennessee wholesale nursery

Mountain Ornamental Nursery started in 1938 when the founder, Roscoe Tate, started the nursery on 12 acres on what is now called Main Street in Altamont, Tennessee. Mr. Tate would buy and resell plus grow and wild dig plants and sell to some very prominent people and companies. Roscoe started with one greenhouse and a few acres and would plant seeds to germinate and resell. Mr. Tate sends out price lists to the customer in the mail to obtain his business, and his only means of advertising.

While raising his family, Roscoe would go around to larger growers in the county and surrounding counties and buy their #1 stock and resell affordable to feed his family and pay his bills. He made a good living from buying and reselling. He started growing some plants on a very small scale in the mid-’80s and built a greenhouse to root cuttings. He would also find pure enjoyment in wild collecting plants and reselling them, going to mountain areas in wooded lands and digging woody perennials, wildflowers and ferns and reselling them for a small profit. After Mr. Tates death in 1997, his spouse Rachel tried to keep the business going by retaining a small number of customers but found this was a man’s work as she put it and quietly retired, helping with her children and grandchildren in her spare time while raising her grandson and putting him through school.

In 1999, Mr. Tate’s youngest child, Tammy Tate Sons, started to follow in her father’s footsteps. She would go to grower’s fields and harvest their #2 plants and peddle them to other nurseries to resell. She used her knowledge to help her dad start her own business while selling swimming pools and in her small beauty shop on the side. Tammy’s husband, Dennis, had a job in the timber business and was the sole breadwinner in their family.

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