Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On the Road to the Gluten Free Fair

I guess I have Gluten Free Vendor Fairs on my mind. That is probably because we will be traveling to Gluten Free Fairs almost every weekend from now until the summer. We are a small, family-run business, and we have a close-knit team of bakers, so it is a big deal for one of us to be on the road. It is also a pretty big deal to get to shows with all the frozen samples and gear needed to display our products.

We often drive when the event is not more than a long days worth of driving. In the process, our SUV is transformed into an ice cream truck/kitchen/furniture/accessory vehicle. It was Paul of Mr. Ritts GF Bakery in the Philadelphia area who first let us in on the secret of taking frozen products on the road: take the back seat out of your SUV, have an inverter installed, and plug in a chest freezer. Voila, you have an ice cream truck. Of course, that works great when you are moving, but it does get a little challenging when you have to stop for the night. So, we travel with a 50 foot extension cord and find a motel where we can back the car close enough to plug in.
The inverter is a great invention, but I must admit that our Golden, Chester, is not a big fan.  When we first had it installed, Chester, like any Golden pup, decided to lick it.  Mistake.  Boy was he startled.  I guess he knows what those invisible dog fences feel like now.

Into the car, we pack a microwave oven, a convection oven for preparing our truly yummy pizzas, all the cutting boards and utensils for slicing and preparing bread, and plates, linens, some lovely-looking flowers (the nice touch,) and our corporate banner. Well, we’re not a CORPORATION—far from it—but what else do you call those roll-up things with your logo on them? We also put in a small cooler with gluten free snacks and caffeine, a GPS, some CD’s, and if we’re really organized and have the time, some books on CD from the library. By the time we’re done, we can barely see out the back, and by the time we get to the show venue, we’re experts on NPRs major topics of the day.

And so we do it over and over, a lot of the time by plane, once in a while by train, and often by driving lots of miles. If you stop by our table, you’re meeting the real people behind our breads, not some professional demo coordinator. To us, the meeting between manufacturer and customer is part of what makes our company special. Last year, we presented our products to over 21,000 celiacs. Yes, that’s a lot of people…and a lot of miles. See you in at the TCCSG Fair in Farmington Hills on Saturday!

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