Birch Benders, a pancake mix business that is working to dent sales of Bisquick and Aunt Jemima, got its first shot at Lucky’s, an organic grocery chain that Kroger took a stake in last year. Matt LaCasse, one of Birch Benders’s founders, had landed in Boulder in 2011 after graduating from Yale and was looking for a way to stay at the end of a long ski season.
In 2011, Lucky’s asked Birch Benders to demonstrate its product in one of its stores. Customers flocked to its table for samples served with juice. But it didn’t move off the shelves.
The grocer stuck with Birch Benders, however, through four or five iterations of the product, Mr. LaCasse said. Once the company got the price down to $4.99 and $5.99 for a one-pound pouch, Birch Benders began flying off the shelves.
Now Birch Benders mixes are sold in Target, Safeway, Giant Eagle and Whole Foods.
“I don’t know that in another city, a retailer would have stuck with us for as long as Lucky’s did,” said Lizzi Ackerman, the company’s chief operating officer, who was just named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of food entrepreneurs. “They really gave us a chance to get it right.”
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