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Picky Bars Takes Its Next Big Step

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!

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Olive, Avery, and Van are stoked, you should be too!

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!

Our three most popular flavors will be at TJs - Cookie Doughpness, Ah Fudgenuts, and Smooth Caffeinator.

Incoming to a TJs near you, our three most popular flavors – Cookie Doughpness, Ah Fudge Nuts, and Smooth Caffeinator.

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.

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5am wake up call for our first Bridgetown run – Lauren, Matt, and I. Can you tell which one of us doesn’t drink coffee?

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.

Lauren and Steph at our first ever expo/demo with the “dime bag” bars.

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!

Massive thanks to Mike, Matt, Angela, Sarah, Mel, Braden, and Collier for all the hard work the last 6 months and always!

All hands on deck, literally! Massive thanks to Picky Crew – Mike, Matt, Angela, Sarah, Mel, Braden, and Collier for all the hard work the last 6 months to make this possible!

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.

Thank you all for the support!

From our Picky Bars family to yours – thank you all for the support! Onward and upward!

72 comments to Picky Bars Takes Its Next Big Step

  • marian

    congratulations! i am so excited for you. and us eaters of picky bars.

  • Allison

    I saw them in Philly today! Excited to have access in my local store! They were well placed in the aisle everyone lines up in, and many were already taken 🙂

  • Heather

    This is awesome! I brag about these bars all the time…to everyone. I even asked for them for Christmas.
    Way to go Picky Team! Going to go to TDs to get some !

  • Jomo Frodo

    Awesome! This Picky Bar story is pretty cool. Will look forward to seeing Picky Bars in the local TJ’s — but as you say, only way to get all 8 flavors is still through the club. I feel so — special.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks man! Appreciate all the support through the years. And yes, the Picky Club is only going to get better. We’re psyched about some of the things we have in store for all you guys!

  • Kim Steckler

    So, so happy for the Picky crew!!! Booyah indeed!

    • Good points all around. Truly apaitcrpeed.

    • Karafiát Orsolya az a költÅ‘nÅ‘, aki a múltkoriban elcsodálkozott azon, hogy Japán mellett tenger fekszik… Azóta várom, hogy errÅ‘l a megdöbbentÅ‘ felismerésrÅ‘l írjon egy haikut. De lehetne akár egy szimpla vers is…O.

    • Jerry Yeh:可是生存並不是我們唯一要求國家保障的東西(我們要求國家保障的東西可多了),而自由也並非總是我們願意為了生存而犧牲的東西。跟負債一億元比起來,我相信很多人寧願去死,然而我們還是賦予國家對自己罰鍰一億元以上的權利(有吧?)。我想,要是死刑的可怕(跟無期徒刑的可怕比起來)沒辦法阻止人為了避開它而多少改變自己的行為,這種「可怕」到底是哪一國的可怕?如果「可怕」只是被那些抱有人權(或人道,whatever)意識形態的人掛在嘴上,而其它人民事實上並沒有那麼在乎,這些人說的「為了人民…應該廢除死刑」應該就不太站得住腳。

  • Katy

    This is awesome!! Congrats!!

  • Layra

    I remember getting my first Picky Bars in those dime bags, they absolutely blew my mind and got me through my first IM. Thank you!! Good luck you guys deserve it and I can’t wait to see what’s next from your awesome company!!

  • Jackie

    Just picked up mine at Trader Joes in Capitola!!! So stoked! These bars have been powering me through my first marathon training!

  • Anamaria

    Wow! This is huge news. Congrats you guys. Is that pic of Steph and Lauren from the Eugene Marathon expo? (I thought that might have been one of your first booth exhibit events.) If so, that was also where I ran my first marathon. (So, yes a looong time ago.) As someone who’s been eating your bars since the “sketchy plastic bag” days—I am so excited for you all! Huge smile on my face.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Yep! Eugene Marathon. I’m pretty sure it was our first ever expo and sampling. Long time ago! Thanks for staying with us for so long, really appreciate it!

  • Alicia

    Checked out my local TJ’s in Napa and happy to report they have arrived! I will buy some there to help build a customer base but will remain a loyal Picky Bar club member.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Great! Thanks for checking and the support both at TJ’s and of course as a club member. We’ll do our best to make it awesomer and awesomer. 🙂

  • Donna

    Congratulations….that is exciting. Now i don’t have to drive so far to buy them. Yeah. Congrats…glad Picky Bars are doing well. Yum!

  • Aw man, I was just at Trader Joe’s earlier today. Will look for Picky Bars next time I’m there. This is so exciting, and I couldn’t be more happy for you and the Picky Bar team. Y’all have worked really hard – many congrats. Job well done!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks Heather! Appreciate your support as one of our first ever reviews! Come a long way thanks to you and others. Hope things are going well!

  • Talk about some well-deserved #lifepoints – congrats! (And looking forward to adding flavor #8 to my box. Gave it a test during vacation run in Paris Saturday – so good!).

  • Sarah Lanphier

    Good for you!! That is so awesome.

  • Ash

    Well done! I appreciate how hard it must be juggling running your own business, training for IM (I did IM Wales last year too!) and having enough hours left in the day for family too. Much deserved!

    Any plans for launching them over here in Wales?

    • Jesse Thomas

      We’d love to get UK distribution at some point. We just launched in Canada as our initial test to see how that goes. It’s just a matter of finding the right organization that gets our story and product and can help us in the right way. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Congrats on IM Wales too!

      • I’m so excited to hear about the Canada launch!!! I always stock up when I’m in the US. What stores are carrying there in Canada?

      • Jesse Thomas

        Ryeka Sport is our canadian distributor, and they are adding stores every day, which we will try to release and post on our website. You can also check out Ryeka’s site and get stuff right away from them – http://www.ryekasport.com/

  • Krista

    This is the most exciting news I’ve read all day! Love Picky Bars. Love TJ’s. Marathon training will start soon and I will need a good supply of these to get me through. Cannot wait to see them in my local store! Congrats!

  • Gretchen

    Freaking Awesome and well deserved!!!

  • Emily

    This is amazing!! When I’m running low on supplies I’ve been searching out REI, but there isn’t one very close to me. Having them at TJ’s will be so convenient! Congratulations!

  • Lauren G

    Congrats! I remember the dime bag days (I thought it was pretty clever)! How far you’ve come, indeed. Best of luck with all the awesome changes happening – I know you guys will continue to rock it.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks so much for investing in us from the get go, Lauren! You and other early adopters are the backbone! We really appreciate it.

  • RunFatBoyRun

    That’s fantastic man. Very happy for you and your company! As an owner of a startup myself, it’s great to see fellow entrepreneurs succeeding in both business and triathlon (you’re just a little more successful than I in the latter ;))! Keep it up and hope to see you in some races this year!

  • Cher Vasquez

    This is so way amaze balls. Although I live in Portland it’s been hard to get to the stores that actually sell Picky Bars. This is way awesome.

  • Jenn Wilson

    So happy for you all!! And don’t forget we can now order them in Canada!!! This. Is. Huge.

    Love seeing all your success – from our family to yours, all the best!!

  • rick

    I remember picking up my bars at your doorstep in Springfield, the basket filled with envelopes with our names on them. My oh my, how the distribution network has evolved!

  • Jacquelyn

    Congrats jesse lauren and jude! Ps: cant wait to see you at the start line in kona

  • Props! Stopped by Trader Joes, Annapolis Md today. One staff guy there knew all 3 Picky Bar flavors, and already had a favorite. Shipment must be on slow boat sailing here ‘cos bars arriving late April. Worth the wait #gumption #RefuelFood

  • Janet Cetrone

    We saw the bars in a Trader’s near Santa Maria while traveling last week. It was launch day and we had so much fun telling customers and the cashier how great they tasted and that we knew the owners! Congratulations!

  • Josh

    You don’t drink coffee!?!

  • Kara Goucher

    Congrats! Saw them in Boulder today!

  • Thrizyl

    Read this while munching on my Picky Bar! Congratulations to you guys.

  • Lisa D.

    This is awesome! I still have my purple “Runner’s High” shirt that I bought to support Picky Bars. We have one Trader Joe’s in Omaha and I’ll go check it out and stock up. Congratulations!

  • sandra

    Massive congratulations on this gigantic step in the growth of Picky Bars. What an exciting chain to distribute your bars.
    Seriously I am voting for Carol ,Mum, as the President of Picky Bars. She is a winner, who gave birth to a champion. Best wishes for Wildflower. Love to Lauren and Jude.
    Regards,Sandra

  • Todd Hachey

    This past Friday, my wife was going to Portland, ME, and whenever we do, we stop at Trader Joes. We live in Bangor, ME and we don’t have a TJ yet… Anyway, I told her to get some Picky Bars while she was there… She came back with A LOT, I think half the bill was Picky Bars! Even though I’m in the club, it’s still nice to get a bump up supply!

  • So happy for you youngsters! Keep feeding the world all this good stuff!!!
    Much love:)

  • Ashley Pastore

    Awesome stuff! We’ve got a TJ’s here in Greenville, SC… and as soon as I can make it over there, you’ll be getting some love from the SE Region. Excited to see such a great company and product take this huge step! Best of luck.

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