Kristy started talking to Whole Foods well before we had a product. I think the first meeting was only 3 months into it. We didn’st have any flavors yet, our bag wasn’st figured out, and we didn’st even have any branding put together. Nonetheless, the local foragers took the time to talk to Kristy about the concept and gave us some great suggestions on pricing and packaging. That was about 10 months ago, and Whole Foods continues to be an incredible ally. The photo is of Kristy having lunch with our microwave after handing out samples of Quinn Popcorn to 70+ Whole Foods managers.
I know it might sound like I am complimenting in the hope of some reciprocity, but I am actually just telling it like it is. Whole Foods is a huge company. I never imagined there was a approachable, engaged, human on the inside. What we have found is that they are actually looking for new and interesting foods. Beyond just throwing the product on the shelf they are willing to go pretty far to help a small company like ours get a solid footing.
About a week ago the managers from all of the North Atlantic stores got together for a meeting and we were invited to share our product. Just us. Pretty amazing. We were busy handing out samples and talking when one of the store managers handed us his cell phone. We looked and he had just received an email from a customer requesting that they carry Quinn Popcorn. Thank you to someone out there! That was cool.
The invite to this event, as well as the other things they are doing to give us a little boost, are all a result of Kristy working with them, listening to them, over the last year. Lee Kane, their North Atlantic Eco Czar (honestly, that’ss his title), has been a great supporter. He is helping us gain visibility within Whole Foods, he is helping us with suggestions for the next batch packaging changes, and he is helping Kristy work through some of the complex non-GMO and organic certifications. Great guy, knows everything about natural foods, and doing a lot to help us out. We are lucky to have found him.
Okay, I need to tie this off. Basically, I’sm amazed by Whole Foods. When we started I had imagined them as a target, a goal, and in that sense, almost an adversary. I imagined we would go through some incredibly complex wrangling. I thought we would need to pull out all of the stops to get this giant to work with us. In the end what we found were people. Nice people.