Christmas came a little early for Larry Lyons, but now he’ll be as busy as Santa’s elves in his own Long Beach workshop.
Lyons, 52, sealed the deal this month on a contract to provide planters to Rouses Markets for sale in 15 of the grocery chain’s stores this spring. The planters, which look like little Adirondack chairs, caught the eye of the purchasing agent and a deal was struck. Now Lyons will be working to fill the order for stock ahead of the spring rollout.
“The first two times I went (to Rouses), I took the swings down to show them and kinda got brushed off,” Lyons said. “But I was persistent, and finally got the guy who is over the plants and he told me they’d probably do something in the spring of next year.”
Lyons thought he’d been given the brush-off again — until he got an email asking about the planters for next year.
“I wanted to start out in 10 stores, but he was pushing for 15,” Lyons said. “So we’ll be in 15 stores.”
Nothing feels better than to go in some place and before you can say anything, someone says, ‘Wow, those are beautiful.’
Larry Lyons, Cajun Planters
Lyons said it takes him four or five days to produce 30 to 40 chairs at a time. But even then, he’s worried about keeping up with demand once the planters hit the stores. He’ll be making planters full time rather than working with his brother in the plumbing business — and may have to take on help.
“The product just sells itself,” he said. “Nothing feels better than to go in some place and before you can say anything, someone says, ‘Wow, those are beautiful.’
“It makes you glad that you take the time to do it right.”
Lyons began building cedar planters about eight years ago after his then-wife asked him to build a planter for the yard. He had just finished a privacy fence and some extra wood, so he used those to make her a planter. She loved it — and so did the neighbors, who ordered their own planters from him.
“I knew I had something,” he said.
So Lyons approached Louisiana Nursery and Clegg’s Nursery in Baton Rouge about selling the planters. They took off.
Fast forward a few years. Lyons was no longer married and he had re-located to Long Beach. A friend approached him about building a porch swing.
Lyons said he didn’t really want to build something that big, but began playing with the smaller version in a chair style. His girlfriend suggested putting a hole in the seat to hold plants and the planter swing was born. Painting the chairs really made them stand out and the sales took off from there, he said. They come in five colors — purple, white, pink, blue and green.
The box planters, known as Cajun Planters, are made of cedar with treated wood in the bottom of the box. He can build them flat or elevated with the legs of the elevated stands also made of treated wood.