As Packaged Manager, I manage a team of talented people who work closely with the hard-working independent vendors and farmers in Austin and the greater Texas area to bring the Wheatsville community over 2,000 excellent local products. We are SO fortunate to have such a wide-range of locally produced and/or processed foods and wellness items to choose from in Austin. We are living in a town where you can get extra virgin olive oil pressed from Texas olives, coffee that’s freshly roasted a few miles away, creamy goat cheese and crispy pecans, chocolate that’s been crafted from bean-to-bar, pickles, eggs, kombucha, frozen meals and pizza, meat alternatives, scented soaps, herbal supplements, protein powders, energy bars, granola, ice cream, chips, salsa and more hand-crafted beers and ciders than we can even fit into the store. These are glory days for Austin producers and we’re all reaping the benefits!
Friend and co-worker Aldia Bluewillow has given me insight to the early days of Wheatsville since her start at Wheatsville in 1983. Some of the first local products sold at the fledgling Wheatsville are from vendors with whom we still have a great relationship such as Good Flow Honey Co. and White Mountain Foods.
Now in 2016, Wheatsville’s ties to the local community are stronger than ever, with nearly 350 local vendors and farmers working with the co-op on a regular basis. Look for Local Connection signs throughout the stores to identify them. Plus, each month a local vendor is given a special focus; look for the large LOCAL VENDORS ARE PARTNERS sign up on the walls in the Produce departments as well as a Breeze or blog article, in-store sampling and sales.
How do these vendors start a relationship with Wheatsville? The first step is filling out a new vendor application on the Wheatsville website. We’ll follow up for more information if the products look like a good fit for Wheatsville, with priority given to items that have already been requested by shoppers. The Wheatsville Wish List is the best way for product requests to be made, either in-store at the Hospitality Desk or online wheatsville.coop/shop/request-a-product. We really do look at your requests! Unfortunately we can’t honor them all, the volume is very high, but we try to accommodate as many as we can, especially when considering new items.
Once a vendor has been determined to be a good fit for Wheatsville, the appropriate department coordinator works with them to be as successful as possible. This includes setting up sampling and introductory sales as well as discussions about product packaging and barcodes. Many of our vendors are making the transition from selling at Farmer’s Markets or small stores and Wheatsville is their first large retailer. Some vendors will build a thriving foundation at Wheatsville and then go on to bigger state and national chain stores, while others are satisfied to consistently offer their excellent products in just the Austin area. Either way, we are always proud to see a business achieve their goals thanks to the support of Wheatsville shoppers. And your support is so important to the people behind the products. thank you!
For the year of Wheatsville’s 40th anniversary, we’re celebrating all of our local vendors throughout 2016 with even more opportunities to talk to the producers in the stores and to try their products and more special sales and events. Special attention will be on Kosmic Kombucha’s “Wheatsville’s Pear of the Dog” exclusive kombucha blend and Sweet Ritual, who sell their non-dairy ice cream pints exclusively to Wheatsville. Also, look for exclusive local products in honor of Wheatsville’s 40th, such as Lick Ice Creams’ “Happy Birthday Cake” Ice Cream, Third Coast Coffee’s Principle 6 Blend and many others!
Coming soon….Happy Birthday Cake
It's your birthday, so live it up! Celebrate with Lick Ice Creams EXCLUSIVE Wheatsville flavor: Happy Birthday Cake! This fun pink birthday cake is colored with local Johnson's Backyard Garden beets, smothered in sweet vanilla ice cream, and sprinkled with bittersweet Great Bean dark chocolate. Look for it at your favorite Wheatsville location in April!
Lick Honest Ice Creams has been handcrafting seasonal and sustainable artisan ice creams since 2011. Free of antibiotics and added hormones, Lick’s milk and cream come from grass-fed Texas cows at local Mill-King dairy. The other ingredients are sourced from small farms and local artisans scattered across the Lone Star State with a focus on Central Texas.