Discovering a delicious treat, such as homemade gourmet fudge, is a treasure for customers spending time exploring an independent gourmet kitchen store. Not only does it give them the opportunity to taste a locally made delight, but also offers them a bit of incentive to return to the store to find new flavors.
This strategy has proven a success for many gourmet insiders, offering them a way to boost sales and their customer base. So is the case with Bekah Kate’s Kitchen, Kids and Home, an independent housewares store located in Baraboo, WI, which recently added homemade fudge to its offerings.
Owned and managed by Rebekah and Mark Stelling, the store has been in business since May 2004. However in 2016, the Stellings added more consumables into the mix, bringing in Lambs & Thyme, a line of dips and popcorn featuring gourmet flavors.The foot traffic and sales that the line of consumables brought to the store was an inspiration for the couple to try their hand at fudge. So were fellow shop owners that noted their own success over the years.
“Many of my fellow HTI members have been making fudge for years and after several conversations with them, we decided that the time was right,” explained Rebekah Stelling. “Our customers are very excited about it. They have enjoyed the free samples we started with and are generally excited for our new venture.”
Offering samples is an important tactic for introducing her customers to something new, such as the homemade fudge. It gives curious shoppers a chance to taste flavors and narrow down what they would like to purchase or gift to a friend, said Stelling.
“We actively sample all of our food lines, so fudge has been a great addition. We have a big sign outside advertising our fudge and customers are coming in just for the fudge. So I am hoping that is bringing in new customers,” she said.
Since introducing the fudge into the store, Stelling said they have made a new flavor almost every week as they try to narrow in on their best sellers. Some of the store’s most recent flavors include: red velvet, cookies and cream, peanut butter chocolate, orange crema and mint chocolate chip.
And while the new venture has been successful so far, Stelling said, it does take some work to get the process started. She and Mark learned a few lessons along the way, one of which was patience, she said.
“Don’t try to rush the process! We were under a time crunch as we were trying to get it all set before two big spring events. It paid off in the long run, but was stressful. The licensing and modifications to our kitchen took a little longer than we had anticipated,” she explained.
However, once all is said and done, Stelling said she is thrilled to offer the homemade fudge to customers, and recommends it to other shop owners looking to make new customer connections.
“Have fun with it! It has been a great conversation starter with our customers and an easy pick up gift for our customers wanting something made locally,” she said.