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Linda Katz sells tumbleweeds. You read that right. Tumbleweeds. Dried, dead, brown, tumbleweeds.
Linda sells tumbleweeds online, and she sells a lot of them. Last year alone she sold over $40,000 worth of tumbleweeds all from the comfort of her rural Kansas home. Who the heck buys tumbleweeds?
Ralph Lauren, for one. And Pottery Barn. Both companies have used Linda’s tumbleweeds in store window displays. A couple of major Hollywood studios get their tumbleweeds from Linda Katz. Miramax cast her tumbleweeds opposite Johnny Depp in “Finding Neverland.” They have also been featured on “Barney & Friends.”
NASA is a huge fan. In fact, the US Federal Government is her single biggest customer. When they were designing and testing their “Tumbleweed Rover,” NASA bought all of their tumbleweeds exclusively from Linda Katz.
She has customers in Paris, Dubai, and Japan. Selling tumbleweeds to an international clientele and earning enough money to support herself and her family is an incredible accomplishment. But it isn’t the most incredible part of Linda’s story. The really amazing thing about Linda’s success is that it happened entirely by accident! Linda never planned on becoming the world’s largest purveyor of tumbleweeds. It was a total fluke!
Like many people, Linda understood the importance and power of the Internet. At first she saw it as an exciting way to keep in touch with her loved ones and wanted to create a “family website.” So Linda took a class to learn website design. As part of an assignment she setup a mock website for a fantasy business called “Prairie Tumbleweed Farms” where she offered up “Small, Medium, and Large Tumbleweeds.” It was a make-believe business that was supposed to help her learn a new skill. She created a web-page for her fantasy farm, put up some pictures of tumbleweeds rolling around in her front yard, wrote some mock product descriptions, and set-up an online shopping cart to process credit cards. It was all just for fun…until she started getting orders. Lots of orders! An average of about 15 orders per week to start.
Now, 14 years later, Linda’s online enterprise earns her more annual income than the average nine-to-five worker. She never leaves home and her store is open 24 hours a day. Anyone in the world can browse her inventory and place an order. Scientists, horticulturalists, NASA engineers, and wild-west enthusiasts can just point and click. The money they spend is deposited directly into her bank account. Whenever an order comes in through her website, she walks out her front door, grabs a big dry tumbleweed, stuffs it in a box and waits for the UPS truck to arrive. (They come directly to her house to pick up the packages.)
Today, Prairie Tumbleweed Farms employees many of Linda’s relatives who all share in the profits. And the whole remarkable business was completely unintentional.
If Linda Katz can sell $40,000 worth of dead, dried, crusty brown tumbleweeds strictly by accident, imagine what you could sell if you actually tried?