by Toni Tileva
Have you ever wondered how local, small vendor items make their way onto the Co-op’s shelves?
It might be easier than you think! It all starts with doing a little research and introducing yourself to us.
“Do a little research, and find out what we look for in products. See some of the other products we carry that are similar to yours. What makes your product stand out? Also, learn more about our values as a store, and see how your values match those,” says Mike Houston, our General Manager.
Our Co-op seeks out products that will move briskly off our shelves, so a sale of a minimum case per month is excellent! We look for vendors who have a demo plan. “You need to have a plan of getting in front of customers. The idea is for them to put the product in their basket initially, but even more so, to keep picking it up as a regular part of their shopping,” says Mike.
Some questions we ask of our vendors during that exploratory phase is what are the case sizes; do vendors do split cases; is there a delivery minimum; what is the wholesale price; will this be exclusive to our store; will the product launch come with a robust marketing plan, including social media promotion; will there be coupons around product launches.
Another important discussion for the Co-op is about packaging. We are really interested in sustainable packaging and love to hear from vendors on the environmental commitments they are making. For example, whether you might have a program like bringing back empty bottles to be refilled or doing other things to reduce waste.
Attending expos is also a great way to get your product in front of buyers. There haven’t been any in-person expos for two years, but things are picking up again. For example, the Natural Foods Expo East 2021 is back in Philadelphia this year from September 22 to 25. Locally, Maryland’s Best Expo, organized by the MD Dept of Agriculture, is another great place to meet and mingle with buyers and fellow vendors.
“We are interested in good, healthy products that customers will keep picking up,” says Mike.
Want to find out more and meet with us? Fill out this becoming a vendor form.