POLSON – Before last year, Polson resident Michael Brandt had never found a four-leaf clover. That all changed when an ordinary trip out into the yard took a fateful twist, and Brandt and his girlfriend, Ali Bronsdon, discovered one four-leaf specimen… and then another… and then another...
In what was either a stroke of fantastic fortune or a fluke of frontyard ecology, a half-hour search that day yielded a staggering haul of 180 four-leaf clovers. With some creativity and clever marketing (not to mention an ever-growing collection of clovers), Brandt was soon inspired to launch the website realfourleafclover.com and has been seeing green ever since.
Little more than a year later, Brandt’s start-up has helped him become a veritable kingpin of the “surprisingly lucrative” online clover business, netting over $2,000 in sales and attracting customers from all over the United States and Canada.
Brandt says that originally he had no intentions of climbing towards the top of the four-leaf clover industry. But after amassing a stash of clovers that would turn a leprechaun green with envy, Brandt says that his “entrepreneurial nature” quickly got the best of him.
“When I got 200 of them, I wanted to be competitive in the clover business. So I found who my competitors were and honed my search engine optimization,” says Brandt, who runs a website development company called Striped Rhino as his day job.
Soon, Brandt had ensured that realfourleafclover.com was one of the top Google search results for prospective customers before sitting back and watching the orders come pouring in.
Brandt has been impressed not only by the sheer volume of orders, but also by the size of some of the orders received. Single clover-hungry shoppers have placed orders of $90 and $120, and, earlier this month, someone requested 200 clovers, which slightly exceeded the site’s current inventory.
While the money from his foray into the clover business has been a pleasant surprise, Brandt says that he has benefited from the side project in other ways.
“I’m a website developer and have clients with stores and I wanted to figure out how it works. With this business I’ve been able to figure out the nuances of running an online store. It just so happens that it turned out to be fairly profitable.”
Brandt has also crafted the website into a good corporate citizen, making a donation of 10 clovers and $100 to the charitable Wings for Wishes fundraiser held last weekend.
In addition to “naturally grown” four-leaf clovers, Brandt’s yard has even borne a number of rare five-leaf clovers, which are available on the site for a premium. However, Brandt says “there’s no market for them,” as they have not sold as well as their quaternary counterparts.
The meteoric rise of the start-up has not gone unnoticed by the industry’s power players. Brandt was recently approached by a “purchasing agent” from South Korea offering to become an offshore middleman for four-leaf clovers at a reasonable rate. Brandt turned down the supplier's proposal, but not after receiving a free sample of “really high quality” Korean clovers in the mail.
With more than $600 in sales over the past month alone, business is booming as summer draws to a close, although leaner days loom in the company’s immediate future. Brandt says that the inevitable onslaught of winter will put an end to the harvest and temporarily deplete his inventory.
But come spring, the yard will be lush with a new generation of clovers waiting to be paired with another wave of customers.
Michael Brandt has made over $2,000 selling laminated four-leaf clovers from his yard online.