When Bekah Stelling, owner of independent gourmet store Bekah Kate’s in Baraboo, WI, told her Lambs & Thyme representative how much she, and her customers, loved the product but that she felt the packaging needed a little updating, she learned that the company was being sold.
“It was a product we had in the store from the get-go. It was a 25-year-old brand and the original owner had so much passion for the product. Now, I am trying to bring that passion back,” she said.
Lambs & Thyme is a line of gourmet herb blends, bread dips and as well as all-natural popping corn cobs. Stelling purchased the business last year and went to work building the brand back up, going back to old customers and developing a business plan to revitalize the business.
“Some of the former customers were giddy on the phone when we told them that we would be updating the brand and bringing it back,” she said. “We want to grow the brand slowly. We are starting with the dips and the popcorn and then we are going to slowly introduce some of the other products since the customers have been asking for it.”
She explained that the opportunity to own Lambs & Thyme has given her a different perspective on the business and she is able to see through the eyes of a vendor. However, she said her experience and network in the independent gourmet channel has been able to help her decided on a growth direction for the business.
“It has been so good for the business because I know what my customers are thinking and I know what other customers will want out of this brand,” Stelling said.
Stelling also explained that having a network of retailers behind her – she is a member of HTI Buying Group – has also helped with product testing and have given her feedback and ideas.
“Many of them have tried it and they have been so good to bounce ideas around with,” she said.
Since she has taken over the business, she said she has learned about how to deal with a variety of issues that arise in the manufacturing process, from tainted product to working through logistics and more.
“This has been a great way to grow our business in a new direction. You always have to look for ways to do that for the business. And, it’s been fun,” she said.