Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bonsai and Watermelons

You might be asking yourself, what do bonsai and watermelons have in common?

The answer is, they are both roadside entrepreneurial ventures here in rural Illinois.

The location of these two venture is the dusty parking lot of a local hot dog establishment. It's at the intersection of two busy roads, but hardly a hotbed of retail sales.

The Bonsai Guy, as I call him, showed up about a month ago. Each morning he would park the bright yellow van, hang the sign on the side, construct his display stand and carefully arrange the bonsai on the planks. Then he sat back and waited for people to stop.


I'll have to admit that lots of people were stopping and some were buying. It was just a little odd because bonsai is hardly something you imagine being sold by the side of the road next to a hot joint frequented by truck drivers.

Imagine my further surprise when an errand took me 20 miles north of here, where I spotted another bonsai van. Same color, same display stand, but this one was being operated by a woman.

Hmmmm, must be Bonsai man's wife.

And then the questions started. I always have a thousand questions floating around in my head. Who is the Bonsai man, and who is the Bonsai woman? Do they work on creating the bonsai during the winter and then set out during the summer to sell them? Why did he stay so long in this one spot? Certainly rural, pork and field corn producing Illinois is not exactly the place where people would be looking to buy bonsai. Do they sell enough to make a living?


The questions were piling up. Every time I saw Bonsai man I formed another question. Yesterday I made a decision. I was determined to stop and interview Bonsai Man. It would make a great blog post, because you know EVERYTHING is blog fodder.

Imagine my surprise when, just like the little Nash Rambler from yesterday's post - GONE! He was gone! Now I'll never get the answers to my questions.

In his place was Watermelon Man!


Yet another entrepreneur set up shop in that dusty parking lot. I'm not quite sure where he's hauled these melons from because I don't think out local watermelons are ripe yet.

See.... there's my first question. If I see Watermelon Man tomorrow there will be more questions.

I might stop. But I don't want a watermelon. I want some answers!


Donna said...

Maybe bonsai guy morphed into watermelon man when he felt bonsai sales maxed out? But where's the yellow van and, and, and? I'm with you so many questions ;)

Mary Rex said...

The bonsai that I can see in the pictures appear to be junipers - j.chinensis 'Procumbens', and j.conferta 'Blue Pacific'. These are plants that already look like bonsai when you buy them. Bonsai Man & Woman are con-artists in that regard. They are just repotting and reselling plants that anyone could just buy in any nursery. For much less.
Those watermelons look good though!

Ang. said...

We have vegetable and fruit street (road?) vendors here. Sometimes we get the knock-off t-shirt guys.

I remember all of the vendors at....well, its been so long since I have been that way I can't remember the highways. 47 and something else, 20 maybe? It was on the way to Spring Hill mall. You probably know where I mean.

Vee said...

How intriguing, Sherlock. I think you've got a genuine mystery on your hands. I'd have to buy the watermelon, but then I'd start asking questions.

Kelli said...

Good luck with your needed answers!


Troy said...

You really needd to get these two guys together to merge into a joint venture.

What home would be complete without a Bonsai Watermelon plant?

Anonymous said...

LOL.. this is hysterical!! What's next?


Jody Blue said...

So fun to try to play catch up with your blog! A bonsai chain??

lifeinredshoes said...

I have a prediction, the bonsais and the melons are both from Mexico:(

Becky K. said...

It is good you have pictures of Bonsai Man or we may have doubted his existence. LOL

That is a very interesting choice of things to sell at a roadside stand.

Watermelons...not so unusual. Hope they both do well.

Becky K.

Mary Rex said...

Agricultural products are very heavily regulated. The USDA would not allow a guy with a trailer to bring watermelons into the USA. You cannot even bring agricultural products with you from a vacation. That is one of the questions they ask at customs...Do you have any watermelons or bonsai hidden in your luggage?:)

Anonymous said...

That is SO strange!! I live in Parkersburg, WV (western part) and we, too, have a Bonsai man!!!!!

Mom Taxi Julie said...

So weird! I haven't seen a bonsai truck but we have random people selling random fruit on every corner around here. What's sad is many times it's a man or woman with or without a child and they sit there ALL day, sometimes with just an umbrella for shade. I can't imagine trying to entertain a child on a busy street corner.

House of Pain Inc. said...

I saw a similar truck less than fancy bonsai written with some bucket paint and a brush. He was out here in Santa Clara California but his truck was yellow and he used similar price tags... Didn't offer a business card which seemed shady. I felt as if he was a con artist of the green thumb family as we'll so I did check out his bonsai but didn't purchase they were less than appealing and he used the little chinese figurines of fishermen and rocks in the pots as well which I always felt was cheesy. Who are they though and where are they coming from ...