For those of you who follow Lauren and I, you may have wondered why we were posting cryptic Instagram pictures in Portland late March saying “exciting stuff on the way!” Well, sorry to let you down, but we didn’t land a guest spot on Portlandia and we won’t be launching the reality TV show, “Keeping up with the Flomases.”
But we are pleased to announce that starting basically now (actually a few days ago for some of you), Picky Bars are available, nationwide, in none other than one of our favorite retailers – Trader Joe’s! You know it’s coming… Booyah!
It All Started Back In August
At the tail end of an email exchange with our Marketing Director Angela (kids pictured above), she says, “Oh yeah, we got an email from Trader Joe’s, they like our website and vibe and want us to send them samples.”
Don’t get me wrong, we were all pretty excited. But I’ve ridden enough startup roller coasters to know that nothing is done until it’s done – whether it’s big customers, investments, partnerships, new employees, whatever. So I kept myself and my employees in check for months as we went back and forth on tasting, pricing, distribution, applications, agreements, etc, until….
Less than 48 hours after my IM win in Wales (when it rains it pours), I got a VM from Angela, and holy mole, Trader Joe’s wanted to take us in – three flavors (Smooth Caffeinator, Cookie Doughpness, and Ah Fudge Nuts)…nationwide!
This of course, is the call most entrepreneurs dream about – a respected retailer with broad reach that closely matches your values, brand and customer base. It was (and still is) incredibly exciting and terrifying at the same time. My mind went immediately from, “OMG, this is going to be HUGE!” to “How the hell are we going to do this!?!?”
So as soon as I got home, my “offseason” was anything but off. The entire office was full gas preparing Picky Bars supply chain, systems, staff, facilities, and customers for the changes that lie ahead. Here’s a list of just some of the things we’ve accomplished in the last 5 months:
- Secured an increased line of credit from Summit Bank here in Bend.
- Hired a digital marketing and PR agency to hopefully beef up brand our awareness in target markets.
- Sourced all of our ingredients and packaging for increased volumes without giving an inch on product quality.
- Signed a lease on a new warehouse space in Bend.
- Launched a new manufacturing partnership with Bridgetown Bakery in Portland.
Long story short, we’ve been working our asses off.
As I told my employees a few months ago, “In case you haven’t figured it out, this is our shot. We’re that semi-cool to some people indie band that got discovered in some random dive bar by a producer who happened to stop in for a beer on her way to the hotel. Let’s try our hardest not to screw it up!”
What it means for you – our current fans, customers, retailers, and stakeholders.
Honestly, it’s all really good stuff. Trader Joe’s is, I think, a great partner for us. It will give local access to our product to many of you who didn’t have that before. We’ll have economies of scale that allow us make an even better product, increase support for our existing customers, and in general, do good stuff for more people. Here are a couple of things we’ve already started since the TJ’s news hit:
- Feed the Dream – Supported 85 aspiring Olympians with free Picky Clubs through the Olympic Trials.
- Picky Club improvements – We’re enhancing the club website with many of the features you requested in our survey, more benefits, exclusive perks and experiences.
- Local jobs & investment in Oregon business – We’re in the process of adding a few more Picky Crew members to our staff. And our partnerships with Summit Bank in Bend, and Bridgetown Bakery in Portland support the regional economy.
- More support for Specialty Retail – Your local events, better POP marketing and field reps to help activate in store are a few things we’ve added already.
In addition, Club and Specialty will still be the only places you can get all seven (soon to be EIGHT!) flavors, and in general we will have the capacity to even better support you guys both with exclusive flavors, products, and services.
Thank You All For The Support – We’ve Come a Long Way….and Have a Long Way to Go!
There was a moment at Bridgetown, when I saw the first Smooth Caffeinator bars get perfectly laid out in symmetrical rows of 8 by this insanely fast mechanical arm thingy. In that moment, I thought, “Holy crap, we’ve come a long way from hand packing these things in little ziplock dime bags in our freaking kitchen!” I don’t know if it’s because it was 6am or what, but I teared up a little bit. It’s absolutely nuts.
While we clearly still have a LONG way to go before and many treacherous turns to navigate down the road, Lauren, Steph and I owe a massive thank you to our current and former employees for the incredible work over the years, all of which eventually led to this opportunity. And to our current employees – Matt, Angela, Sarah, Mel, Mike, Collier, and Braden – thanks for the intense work over the last 6 months that enables us to take advantage of it…and as you know, much more work on the way!
Lastly, and most importantly, I want to sincerely thank our many long time customers, retailers, supporters and fans for helping us get to this point. Without your support of our first bars in those sketchy plastic bags, taking a risk on joining a monthly Picky Club before subscriptions were everywhere, or carrying us in your speciality store, none of this would be possible. I hope you all are as excited as we are for this next phase in our little company’s life. We know there will be more ups and lots and lots of downs along the way, but we will continue to work our butts off for you guys, creating products and services that “Fuel Great Experiences” for you all.