Sunday, September 27, 2009

Changes in the Air

There's something more than foliage colors changing around here. What a week! We just got back from the Expo East Natural Products Convention in Boston. As of today our products can be found mostly in Northern Vermont, with some stores in Southern Vermont carrying us, and a few stores over the borders in western Massachusetts and western New Hampshire. But in a couple of months we could very well be in all New England states. Time to fasten our seat belts.

The response to our dough at the expo was overwhelmingly positive. Retailers loved the product and wanted to know how to get it. This presents one of the challenges we face, as we don't currently have distribution in the Boston area. So Paul would ask them to talk to their preferred distributor about carrying our product. The second day of the trade show a distributor that covers most of New England came to the booth and said that so many people had come by asking them to carry our products that they had to come see for themselves. While nothing is sure yet, they seemed very interested.

When we start considering such wide distribution, the issue that flares up is production. We still hand roll our frozen cookie dough, which means that after we mix it, we freeze it, then cut it into bricks, which we roll into a burrito shape in freezer paper and wrap in aluminum foil, followed by our label and the outer protective plastic. It's ridiculously slow and we have known for some time that we need to change how we do this eventually.

Another discussion that came about at the trade show was with a potential co-packer. There is a manufacturer near us that makes cookie dough already for other applications and could conceivably mix large quantities for us on a contract basis. But we would have to change our packaging to fit the plant's capabilities. That will be a meeting we hope to have in the next several weeks, at least to get a sense of how far from realistically considering that step we really are.

Paul was truly shell shocked after the show. It was amazing and thrilling to contemplate the growth that we could be headed toward. But it is also daunting and overwhelming, especially given that we are both teetering on the edge of total exhaustion and burn out at all times these days. He had a day of panic, wondering if we will ever be able to do all this and also have anything resembling a sane and enjoyable life. Time will tell, of course. But I have to be the eternal optimist and say yes, yes we can. We have to find a way to set the limits and not let this train run away dragging us from the caboose. I believe it can be done.

Before I forget, in other news, our cookies will be featured as the Snack of the Day on the Rachel Ray Show this Thursday morning, October 1. We have no idea what to expect from this, but it will be fun to see what happens.

Well, it seems this post has had nothing to do with our early development. Then again, in two years, this week will feel like our early development. ("Remember when we used to roll these things by HAND?")

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