I’m really glad I’m in the food business. When I started baking croutons in our kitchen oven, hand packing them in paper bags, and selling them in a few local Vermont stores, I had no experience in food manufacturing or retailing. I’ve learned a lot along the way.
I think food — my almost accidental career — is a good business to be in, for a lot of reasons. Large profits and reasonable hours are, for most of us, not two of them. But making food that brings happiness and health to individual people, and families, is one of them. These are folks I’ll never likely meet, yet I get to cook for them. Most of the time, the way I know we’re doing a good job is by watching business figures: sales reports, distributor orders, inventory turns, how many pounds of butter and fresh garlic we’re ordering each week, that kind of thing.
But frequently enough to keep us energized, we get some really touching feedback. Thursday last week, a Fresh Market buyer included us on an email she sent to a few of their food producers. Here’s a little of it:
“…Butter Garlic Croutons – oh my goodness, she waxed poetic on the croutons for 10 minutes. She loves the story printed on the box and says it shows [The Fresh Market’s] commitment to small business. She considers herself a bit of a Martha Stewart, who makes her own breads and pastas. She said she couldn’t even come close to making croutons as good as these because good croutons start with good bread.”
“So, with all that, just wanted to let you know that there are customers out there who appreciate the work you put into making TFM a great place to shop.”
That kind of fuel in our tank keeps us going for a long time. It’s why I love what I do. And if you’re thinking of getting into our business, I can tell you that while it isn’t an easy way to make a living, its truly satisfying.