Small Bites May 6, 2021
We are still seeking 2020 VT meat & bakery sales at stores!
Share your "pandemic increases" in these two product categories. Reach out to us at

Stores: ever changing dynamics

First, a major recognition for all the mothers who are store owners managing so many variables this past year. Next a serious acknowledgement & gratitude to all the mothers on the front lines who helped in the sale of VT products. It has been quite a year.
Now onto D&K news. The "town-center" & historic store in Jamaica has turned over a new chapter. Longtime mom, grandmother & unofficial mayor, Karen sold the store to new owners & with it, a new name. West River Provisions aims to service the locals & the many others who make it a "must" stop when touring area for skiing, boating, or camping. As always happens with new ownership, changes will be coming but what will remain is a commitment to an engaged community, expanded local products including local baked goods from Skinny Goose.
Staffing for the upcoming busy summer season activities is a current issue at many stores. Creating training programs that ensure safety of workers, maintain product integrity while promoting product sales & margins add to the workload of onboarding.
Stores are dynamic by nature. That is the business model in a nutshell. No two days are the same, no two staff are the same, the same can be said of customers. How then do you make it all work, everyday?
Creating systems to streamline expectations help staff share their own accountability with a wider understanding of the variables leading to successful operations. We can create all the SOP's, however engaging staff with accountability aides them in understanding the unique daily variables. We had the unthinkable last week when two major brands Koffee Kup Bakery & Vermont Bread Company closed shop with no notice. The closure left major gaps in bread sales in two niche segments: affordable baked goods & a "family friendly" line of organic sandwich breads.
Stores grappled with customer questions, supply gaps & uncertainties how to stock their bakery shelves. Koffee Kup & VT Bread generally had premium shelf space. Buyers, receivers, stockers, cashiers & customer service staff were all thrown into the mix of uncertainty. While all this was going on staff at some stores took the opportunity to conduct thorough cleaning & product resets. This helped a more positive image for shoppers & showcased staff initiative, something that is a positive step to creating accountability.
Seasonal produce from our local farms is coming on strong. What you might not know, or maybe you do, but your staff doesn' that our local greens tend to be different varieties from western grown ones. The same is true of asparagus, VT looks different than currently available NJ varieties. When ours comes on, staff needs to expect less uniform sizing.
Hoop & greenhouses have extended the season for local greens over the last 15 years. The flavors are fresh, clean, tangy, vibrant & welcome by shoppers. This has helped growers increase cash flow "in" when it used to be this time of year was a lot of cash flow "out".

Shoppers notice the differences in early VT spinach from imported winter spinach. Our locally grown arugula is one of the great Spring tonic greens full of zest. The flavor profiles from our local growers are so robust with nuances among varieties. Our Vermont spring greens are a most pleasant change from the staid winter greens. 
Bakeries: staying the course

When Koffee Kup & VT Bread Company closed last week, stores have been scrambling for new bakeries to fill the shelves & meet customer needs. As a result local bakeries have been fielding calls like mad. No one bakery will be able to fill the void.
Each has their product niche, set distribution & logistics along with targeted accounts to encourage sales & accounts receivables. We have heard from stores seeking new suppliers & bakeries saying they do not have a desire to create new products, the operational capacity, nor the distribution set up to expand to fit the new gap.
Take Eddie's Bakery & Handcut Donuts, long known for their maple glazed donuts & whoopie pies they are a staple at northern coops & inde stores. Their phone is now ringing off the hook with stores seeking their products. They had a nice supply & demand flow going & after last weeks' disruption they do not currently see an expansion in products or distribution.
Another northern bakery selling handcrafted bread is Trent's Sourdough located in Westford. This bakery, located not far from Burlington, is interested in hiring some of the recent laid off workers from KKB. With a distinct distribution route the bread is sold at many stores including Rail City Market in St Albans, Sweet Clover Market in Essex, Richmond Market, Jericho Country Store, City Market in BTV. In addition they sell to farmstands & CSA's. Is your store or farmstand along their route? Do you need fresh bread that is distinct in flavor & texture? Try Trent's. 
Fiddleheads: Clues for safe selling
What to know: keep cold, place damp cloth over then for closing; teach staff to encourage shoppers to properly prepare them for cooking: wash them in cold water & rub away any "papery-covering"; trim the ends & boil for 10 minutes.
The plants are wild. Some folks cannot easily digest them resulting in stomach cramps. State health & Ag departments recommend they are fully cooked to reduce chance of digestive discomfort. They should never be eaten raw or under- cooked. The best method is to boil them in salted water for about 10 minutes, then sauté.
Farmers Take Note
When was the last time you checked out the SOP's at Cornell? We love these tools to help you gain farm efficiency & train new staff for safety procedures. Need help writing them? Cornell helps make it easier. Also, SOPs & decision trees for transportation & distribution.
Are you a CSA with add-on products or do you have a farm store? Trent's Bakery wants to hear from you. They love selling to seasonal farm outlets!
VAAFM weekly e-news & resources, it's not just for farmersSign up here to receive issues directly to your inbox.
What goes well with VT baked goods? Freshly roasted coffee! Consider stocking First Branch based in So Royalton. They are seeking a wider distribution range.