This is a series of posts spotlighting Arizona businesses that share their products with Sibley's West, as part of the "Small Business Boost" award efforts of 3TV/CBS 5, BNC National Bank, the Arizona Small Business Association and Cox Business.
How many of you have planted or shared a "traveling cactus"?
You have Bev and Bob Wilkening to thank.
Bev and Bob -- along with their children, Bobbie and Tracy -- operate B&B Apache Cactus in Apache Junction. In addition to the cacti, they also create marvelous pottery.
The story starts in 1982, when the couple "semi-retired" and moved from the little town of Buckley, Ill. -- south of Kankakee -- to Arizona.
Bob would spend time at the swap meet in Mesa and, one day in 1987, a woman said she liked one of the ceramic pots he had but she would buy it if it had a cactus in it.
"So I drove to Carefree and bought some cacti," Bob recalls. "I put them in pots and they all sold. So I went back and got more."
The company was born. It was soon employing 19 people and had expanded into a warehouse in Apache Junction.
When the supplier of ceramic pots closed, they decided to start doing their own ceramic work. Daughter Bobbie was heavily involved, along with potter Sharon Hinton and Raku artist Jerry Calhoun.
It's now 2019 and Bob continues to make deliveries around the state, providing boxes of traveling cacti and pieces of pottery to shops and resorts.
How many cacti have they produced to sell over the years?
Well, that number must be huge. Just on a recent day their greenhouse setup featured six long tables filled with 100 trays per table, with 64 plants per tray. or 38,400 cacti. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A TRAVELING CACTUS
Here's a video of the operation: