Charlie Tomfohrde and his array of house plants for sale at the Hinsdale Farmers Market

Hinsdale Magazine recently met with Charlie Tomfohrde age 13, at the Hinsdale Farmers Market.

Q. Where did your interest in house plants come from?

A. I have always been interested in plants, and I started my first vegetable garden with my dad in 2021. My house plant hobby started in 2022; I had about fifteen plants when the idea of creating a plant business occurred to me.

In the fall of 2022, when I was 12 years old, I sent an email to the Chamber of Commerce requesting to be a vendor at the Farmer’s Market. After an application and an in-person interview, I was accepted, and my business was a go. I had to build my first business, Charlie’s House of Plants, from scratch!

Q. What was your learning curve like?

A. There were a few things to figure out in order to be a vendor, including insurance, registering with the State of Illinois, and obtaining a tax ID. For example, I learned that I needed to form a company in order to open a merchant account to be able to take credit card payments.

I keep a ledger for sales tax and profit and loss. Although I started to propagate plants in the winter to ensure I had enough inventory, I soon realized that I could buy plants wholesale with a tax ID.

For nine Mondays this past summer, we loaded the car at 5:30 a.m. with products to go to the market. We sold a wide variety of plants, including the Alocasia Polly, Pothos varieties, and Syngonium Moonshine.

Q. What are your most important takeaways from your first summer?

A. I am very proud that the plants I sell are high quality and sell for the same price or less than other stores. I learned about renewable sources of soil, the importance of marketing, signage, and that shiny leaves make the product more appealing. I am also proud that I made a donation to HCS Family Services. ■