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Bulk Foods Store offers alternatives for customers
Photo: Kitten Dymesich
What comes first – the chicken or the egg? This is a common conundrum among new business owners trying to determine how fast to grow their business. Kitten and Eric Dymesich are no exception. But, the Mason Wis., couple isn’t letting that stand in the way of their dream to own and operate
The Bulk Food Store, LLC was something Kitten Dymesich dreamed of opening since moving away from her childhood home in southern Wisconsin.
“I grew up shopping at Amish stores,” she says. “After I moved up here, every
time we would go visit my family, we’d stock up on supplies at those stores.”
It was after one of these trips that she casually mentioned how great it’d be to
have an Amish bulk food store in Northwestern Wisconsin since the closest one
is hours away. Eric Dymesich, who is always up for a challenge, took that comment to heart and decided to make her dream come true.
To accomplish this, he spent many hours in an Internet Café researching the
industry. While this process is similar to many other entrepreneurs, his situation
was slightly different due to the fact that the Internet Café was in Iraq. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Eric Dymesich was also a combat medic who was deployed to Iraq in 2010.
While the time difference and location made business planning difficult, the couple never gave up. Upon returning home in 2011, Eric Dymesich used
his leave to set-up shop at their home in the outskirts of Mason. Doing so accomplished several things.
“I always planned to be a stay at home mom,” Kitten Dysemich says. “This allowed me to run the store, while taking care of our two children.” The couple
also had the real estate – they had built their home with extra space built in for a potential small business.
“We own this building and live here. When we were starting out we got some
advice which was start small and build yourself up, and this was a way we could do that,” she continued.
In July 2011, their doors were open. Since then, business has steadily grown.
But, their location hasn’t helped. Located on a country road outside of Mason,
Wis., and at least five miles away from U.S. Highway 2, customer acquisition is
difficult. Kitten Dymesich says putting a covered wagon on Highway 2 has drawn a lot of attention. But, they are continuously looking for creative ways to market themselves in hopes of bringing new customers to their shop.
“We keep experimenting to see what makes a difference for us,” she explains.
To date, they’ve advertised in local newspapers and radio, managed a blog,
crafted articles for a free newspaper, managed a Facebook page and have a
web presence. They’ve also started selling some of their foods online.
Today, marketing and hard work appear to be paying off. On any given week, they see between 40 and 60 customers shopping the endless shelves of
bulk beans, grains, flour, rice, pasta, nuts, dip mixes, candies, seasoning, dried
fruits, drink and dip mixes and various local products such as honey and meat.
At first glance, it might sound like a long drive to visit a grocery store – but it is
“We are different because we provide our products with less packaging, which
allows you to get more for your money. It also allows you to choose different sizes,” Kitten Dymesich says. She goes on to explain that the couple is also focused on bringing a better quality product to the consumer.
Some of the best selling items include unbleached, unbromated all-purpose
flour, Australian licorice, black cocoa, cheddar cheese powder, chick soup base
and a variety of seasoning and spices.
A combination of unique, premium products at a bargain price has convinced
customers it is worth the trek to Mason to shop. But, they know they need to keep growing if they want to create a longterm sustainable business.
Most recently, the couple has expanded into a new market. For over the past
year, they had been purchasing and selling Northwestern Coffee Mills beans out of Washburn. When they learned former owner Harry Demorest had passed
away, they began a conversation with his daughter Kate about the company’s future to ensure the long-time legacy continued.
When it became clear Kate wasn’t going to keep the business going, they
decided to buy. Demorest had a longtime, robust customer base in more than
40-states across the United States. Now, the new owners hope to build on it.
As for what the future holds, Kitten Dymesich says they hope to continue
building business in their current location to prove the business model and
need for a bulk food store. Once that happens, they hope to move their store
but continue to live their dream of owning and operating a local business providing quality food to their customers.
Beth Probst is a freelance writer based in Iron River.Previous BusinessNorth Exclusives Articles:
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