Karmin Billadeau, owner of Bismarck, ND-based Karmin’s Kitchen Table, knows the importance of vendor relationships. When Billadeau, a former housewares buyer and manager, was gearing up to open her store in 2016 she was determined to not only further build upon her established vendor relationships, but also make new ones.
The care and attention Billadeau brings to those relationships has proven successful for several reasons. As Billadeau continues to focus on growing her gourmet foods selection, for example, she often finds herself turning to her vendors for inspiration.
“When it comes to inspiration, we look at our food vendors a lot and the items they are grabbing right now. For us, we heard that Hatch chili peppers are hot. The ingredient seems to be in a lot of things that our vendors are coming out with, so we have brought that trend into the store and customers are responding well to it,” she explained.
Billadeau stated that she has recently welcomed in foods such as Hatch Chili Jalapeno Jam from Robert Rothschild Farms and the Hatch Green Chili Cheddar Beer Bread mix from Soberdough. In order to showcase them to customers, Billadeau makes sure to have samples available for tasting.
In addition, she will also incorporate new food ingredients she is testing into her cooking classes. This enables her to build out the product’s story and showcase other merchandise that can be used with the foods, such as a kitchen tool, gadget or bakeware. For example, with customers curious about Hatch green chili products and cooking with the chili pepper itself, Billadeau said she took the opportunity to bring in a new pepper corer and a garlic peeler.
“Customers can use the pepper corer or bell peppers too, and we try to work with them to show them all of the uses of an item,” she added.
With new items such as the beer bread mix, Billadeau uses the opportunity to showcase and talk about her selection of bakeware, as a suggestion for customers to pair with the mix. And, for Billadeau, her bakeware selection consists only of USA Pans, something she has chosen to do from a personal experience.
“My daughter has celiac disease and since we are baking with specialty flours and ingredients, our cookies and other baked goods never stick,” she said. “I share this experience with all my customers and they appreciate it if they are also baking and cooking gluten-free recipes.”