What It's About
How a pastry builds a friendship and a delicious side hustle!
Words of Wisdom
While a market-type environment may seem like a ripe environment for competition, it may actually serve you better in the long-term if you work together with your fellow sellers.
Collaborating in the beginning was mutually beneficial for Chad and Zoie. Chad was able to save money on the filling for his pastries, Zoie had someone directing people to her stand, and they both got more exposure for their products.
There's much speculation on the origins of æbleskiver, but one of the most popular theories dates back to the time of the Vikings. Apparently, one band of these rampaging Vikings had been particularly hit hard in battle, so, when they got back on their ship, they decided to have one of their favorite dishes to help them regain their strength—pancakes.
In those days, they did not have modern conveniences like frying pans, so, they greased their dented shields and poured the pancake batter on them over the fire but, guess what came out of the holes of the shields—Æbleskiver!
Notes from Chris
Episode 523Today’s side hustle was actually a result of a different side hustle. Back in 2007, Chad Gillard, a business analyst at a Minneapolis agency by day, was selling æbleskiver at a local farmer’s market. His food stall neighbor, Zoie Glass, owner of Lucille’s Kitchen Garden, was selling jam—the perfect thing to fill the æbleskiver with. A natural partnership formed between them—Zoie offered to let Chad use her jams in the pastries, and in return, he would conveniently direct customers to her food stall. By collaborating like this, they both benefited. Chad was able to save money on the filling for his pastries, and they both got more exposure for their products. They decided to team up to try to learn more about growing their food businesses. They attended national trade shows and met with food industry leaders in other areas in order to figure out the best way to bring their businesses to the next level. Their aim when starting Midwest Pantry was to help level the playing field for small-time players trying to take their food business to the next level. They noticed that even though the Midwest is known as the breadbasket of America, all the big wholesale food trade shows were located on the coasts. These are the places food producers go to meet with wholesale buyers and try to get their products in grocery stores and other markets. Not only would people have to fly to the coast to attend these, they would have to pay upwards of $10,000 to get a booth in order to try to sell their products. For many people who are just starting out, this is unreachable. Chad and Zoie wanted to bring together local food producers with wholesale buyers without the astronomical price tag. A local kitchen and food supply store was holding an annual tent sale, and Chad and Zoie thought this could be a great place to gauge interest in a trade show type event. Ahead of the tent show, Midwest Pantry paid for an extra day for the tents and set up booths for food producers. They only charged enough to cover the costs and brought in wholesale buyers. After testing things out at the tent show, they secured some booths at a food and wine show that was held at the state fairgrounds. These experiments were somewhat successful, but the next step was to create their own trade show. And that led to two more phases! So let’s talk about how they make money. Like the activities of the business itself, the revenue model for Midwest Pantry has transformed multiple times since Chad and Zoie started up. At first, they tried to create a membership model, but because they didn’t have the name recognition then that they do now, it didn’t really take off. They then transitioned to monetizing at the event level, but because they wanted to make sure food producers had access to the events, they also wanted to keep costs down. Therefore, they’ve since transitioned back to the membership model. The membership model they now offer includes both individual and corporate tiers. At the annual individual level, which is $65 a year, members get free entry to the meetups and access to the educational series, along with other discounts. Premium memberships, which are $40 a month, allows members to rent out space in the Food District. There are five tiers of corporate memberships ranging in price from $500 to $10,000 a year. They have anywhere from one hundred to one hundred fifty individual members, depending on the time of year, over a dozen corporate members. Over the years, Midwest Pantry has worked with over five hundred businesses. Midwest Pantry has been sowing the seeds of growth and fostering a community of collaboration and innovation for over ten years. And yes—it’s still a side hustle for both Chad and Zoie. It gives them the opportunity to help other side hustlers and to have a voice in shaping the food industry for small businesses. You might even say they’re helping keep the bread in the breadbasket of America!
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Midwest Pantry: Learn more about the community they're building over on Chad and Zoie's website!
- Lucille's Kitchen Garden: The jam-based retail business that Zoie had when she and Chad stared their partnership
- PR Consultant Launches California Restaurant Week: A PR consultant in Long Beach, California, earns an extra $20,000/year producing an annual “restaurant week” that brings together chefs and new diners
- “Dessert Goals” Team Creates Sweet Success: Two New York City event planners and dessert fiends create a festival series focused on their love of sugary goodness
- The $60,000 “Food Truck Empire” (No Cooking Required!): In his quest to understanding the economics of food trucks (also known as food carts), a man creates a blog and podcast that earns $60,000 in a year. He does this part-time—and without owning an actual food truck!
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