New York City is home to the densest metro area in the US, but launching a CPG product there has its own unique set of challenges.
Trent has helped launch dozens of brands into the market and leads a team of high-impact merchandisers. We discuss what it takes to be successful and how you can stand out.
Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at Foodbevy.com to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.
Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] New York City is home to the densest metro area in the US, but launching a CPG product there has its own unique set of challenges. So I want you to listen to a Ask an Expert session. I did live with Trent Moffat Gotham Brands to learn insights on why the market is different and how you can be successful.
Enjoy the conversation. What I'd love to do today, kinda two part, I have a couple questions for you to really kind of think about why New York City is a different market than a lot of others around the country. And I'd love to also take questions from our audience as well on specific challenges that they've dealt with.
So for everyone listening in, we have a bunch of brands here. If you have questions that you've been dealing with or questions around launching in New York City, please ask those in the chat and then I'll invite you to come up on screen to ask those in Trent directly, why is New York City different from other markets and what makes it unique?
Trent Moffat: What we find in New York it's a unicorn of independent accounts, right? It's still, you go up and down the street on Third Avenue and there's independence either opening open or been around [00:01:00] for 20, 30 years, right? So, and these are the folks, and what I mean by independence is, It's where the buyer can make that decision right there at the store level.
So if we go in with a new brand, somebody's there that can make the decision to bring it in and then it could be brought in the next day. So a trucks will bring it in the next day. It's also very aggressive cuz everybody knows that, right? So if we miss that opening where there's an empty space on the shelf and we're in, if we're not delivering the next day, the guy behind us is gonna get that order and fill the shelf and we're gonna get a refused order the next day.
So it's very aggressive. But the potential's there to build a brand, because let's say for example, you do third Avenue, a couple stores on third Avenue, and the brand really didn't take off. You revamp it a little bit. Now you can do Lexington, you can do first, you can go downtown, work with some other accounts, really figure out your product and then bring it back to those accounts and they'll bring it back in.
Right? Whereas opposed to, you bring it right into Kroger, you have a launch. Didn't do well. It's very hard to go back to the buyer. So you really get a chance to figure out your brand, build a story around it, get some velocities, get some volume, get some account base to bring to those buyers and say, Hey, this is doing very well.
Here's your information I could share with you.
Jordan Buckner: When you're going up and down the street and thinking about that, [00:02:00] what's the best way that those independent buyers wanna be approached? Are they looking to work with DSD distributors or looking to work with brand founders directly? I know they're busy, they're running their businesses.
Sure. How do you get their attention and how do you suggest brands kind of even get started?
Trent Moffat: You are gonna run into some accounts that are, you know, I've done it on my car, I've done it on my trucks. In the beginning, I built the route so, You are gonna have some buyers that strictly just wanna deal with a handful of distributors for a billing per, and for, reception and computer issues that they might have.
So it takes a little longer for certain accounts to correct that code. You have a brand that they want, you keep hitting 'em up, but there's enough brand, there's enough retail accounts that you could just skip him and go to the next one. So I always say, you know, when you go into account, Look for the space where you want to be.
Look for the competition. Where you think your place and your pricing have everything ready to go, have samples. And then certain accounts, if it's a bagel store, you don't wanna be there during breakfast. Probably want to hit 'em up, you know, right before lunch. Same thing with some of the.
Bodegas, quote unquote, are the large delis. Same thing. You wanna hit them before or after lunch, and then that's a time that you can hit some of your larger markets, right? Your, your larger [00:03:00] independent markets that don't have a busy lunch crowd, but you can go talk to the buyer then. Early starts here are key.
Typically seven and six, 7:00 AM you start to see, you know, some of your folks in stores and you can work your routes around that. You're not gonna typically find a buyer that can make that decision after three o'clock, so you gotta be done by two, three o'clock after that lunch blitz. And then if you're working with distributors to get those orders in, they'd probably have a shutoff time between somewhere between one and four o'clock too, because then they just gotta start loading their trucks for the next day.
So those are just some of the things to be aware of.
Jordan Buckner: How do you make your product appealing to those buyers? Is it offering a free fill? Is it offering kind of product on some consignment? Are they gonna buy it from you straight up? Like for new products, right, that people haven't really heard of.
How do you kind of make that impression? They're like, all right, we'll give you a shot.
Trent Moffat: So the one thing about the independence, they like to hear the word free a lot. Whether they're buying a brand that they bought for five years or they've done well with, or, it's a brand new item, right?
They just, they like to hear that word free the pricing and so you have to almost incorporate your pricing around that. So I've got brands that lift the price knowing that they're gonna have to offer a five and one ongoing, or 10 and one ongoing, or 10 and three [00:04:00] something ongoing to entice them to buy.
But you're right. One of the things we're pretty successful here, working with the warehouse is we don't wanna give just free product away, just a free fill across the board, right? Because if an owner brings it in and he pays for it, now he takes ownership of it, gives you a better shelf placement.
We'll work with you, make sure the pricing's accurate, as opposed to letting it sit in the back. He just didn't pay anything for it. Puts it out there at any price, doesn't care. Then it doesn't sell. It puts it out for 99 cents. It just killed your item. So if they buy it, they're gonna take a little bit more ownership on it.
What I will tell my brands is you don't want to give away just one case, one flavor and just put one skew on the shelf. You're gonna get lost really quickly. So what we'll try and do upfront is just do a bogo, we'll mix cases if we have to make sure all the skews are represented. At the warehouse level.
This way we get the space, we get the product up, and then when you go back for the reorder, , you've already got all the skews in it and you can build from there. It's a little easier.
Jordan Buckner: And then in terms of products, I know there's every different type of independent, but are there types of products that you see being asked for in the market?
Are there certain stores that are looking to bring in like, well-known products or other stores that are more [00:05:00] open to new, kind of never heard of before? Products, kinda, what does that landscape look like right now?
Trent Moffat: Our accounts like to do, find things that are new, right? So they know that we deal with a select number of accounts so we don't go to their neighbor across the street that they might compete with or bring it to them first.
So they're like first to market with whatever brand might be. We're first to market with the CBD drinks. We're the first to market with the plant-based drinks with Owen and Rebel. So I think we're always ahead of the curve on certain brands because they'll come to us and, a lot of the big distributors are, rightfully so.
Don't know if it's gonna work or not. And for them to bring in a tractor trailer and open up their sales team to it , and on unknown item becomes difficult. They'll let us build it first, let us get , all the kinks out and work it out to make sure it works. And we pass 'em off to a lot of big distributors here.
So our retailer typically, they like to look for new items, no questions.
Jordan Buckner: Okay. Awesome. And then we got a question she's doing a summer partnership with popup Grocer in the city and is wondering how to best leverage that relationship to launch and other accounts.
Is it something that like other accounts kind of know about and , they're kind of looking at trendy things there? Can you bring that up?
Trent Moffat: Some accounts do know what popup brochure is. Others won't. So, you [00:06:00] could just say we're in a bunch of, a couple of accounts, six accounts.
Here's the volume we're doing. So have your homework. And have your piece of paper ready. Here's what we did per week, per month. We're selling X number of cases and these are our top skews. You'll have a lot of that information. Plus through the popup brochure, which is pretty full, you'll know your price point.
So when they say you won't sell at this price, you've already got some history of doing so. I don't think from what I've seen, anybody gets upset that you're working with pop-up grocery, even across the street. Cause they know it's short term and they're trying the product. You're really highlighting your product to show that it does sell.
And I think that's a great thing.
Jordan Buckner: Yeah, you mentioned that earlier, kind of the sense of wanting to be the only, the last independents wanting to be the only store kind, selling a product in the area. Does that tend to be you know, I've been in New York a number of times, but does that tend to be like on a street level, like I don't want anyone cross the street on the block?
Is it . Like a two, three block radius, kinda what's kind of like outside their territory?
Trent Moffat: I think it goes all the way up, you know, from a Whole Foods right? Wanted to have an exclusivity for three to six months down to the independent with his neighbor across the street.
So it goes across the board with everybody. Everybody wants to be first, but nobody wants to be first. They all want to show that it sells and it does well. We've done well because we've brought in so many new items to [00:07:00] these folks that they know. If a flavor doesn't work, something expires, something doesn't, if let's say a package change happens because , we realize that, you know, something has to be redone, we swap out all the products at the street level.
. For a hand touch item for our products. Our guys are out there, our trucks are out there. And so , if something doesn't work, we're gonna swap it out and that alleviates a lot of the pressure off of them. Cause a lot of 'em are taking a risk, right? If they take 10 cases and, one, they're losing shelf space, which costs 'em a lot of money on rent in the city, it's very expensive.
And two, they are, you know, outlaying cash in, in many instances on a product they don't know.
Jordan Buckner: As you're kind of working with different products, I know you're taking a limited assortment. Do you have any recommendations for other independent distributors , who are good fits for early brands?
Trent Moffat: I've worked with 'em all. I've worked with from the small screen distributor all the way up to, you know, Gaizer and working with brands , to figure out when it's selling and how it's doing to pass 'em off to the right distributor. what I always say, and when we're at a point, you know, six, seven months into a brand that's doing well, we'll send out notes to the distributors.
I could push through with a lot of relationships to ask for favors to get meetings and, hopefully bring the brands in. But at the same time, if the distributor's not excited or they're, [00:08:00] maybe they're over capacity on a certain segment, don't push it work for, there's enough distributors here to figure that out.
And when somebody's excited that that makes it a lot easier, right? You could imagine a sales manager that just did you a favor, brought it in, and he's not a full believer in it, and the sales team's inevitably gonna come back and said, it doesn't sell. Because for new products are very tough to get moving, and it takes time, right?
You gotta be on the shelf for three months, six months, and you know, maybe in these two stores it didn't work. But this one it did work. And you wanna focus on that direction. But when the sales team comes back to the sales manager that says it didn't work, he's gonna be, I knew it wouldn't sell, and he's gonna kind of just brush it off.
Versus if he's excited for it, he's gonna push back on the sales team to say, Did you try here, did you try there? What's your price point? He is gonna start asking questions and I find that's a big difference. You want people excited for your product.
Jordan Buckner: Yeah, that makes , a good point. I mean, speaking about that, Molly had a question on marketing.
Molly, do are you available to come on and ask her a question directly?
Molly: Yes. Thank you.
Trent Moffat: Hi Molly.
Molly: Hi. So you mentioned about a lot of independence. I also work with a lot of independents here in Chicago. [00:09:00] One of the challenges I find is creating a cohesive marketing plan that allows me to execute more easily because a lot of them have their own things that they wanna do or that they're open to having me do.
And so I didn't know if you have any suggestions on how to. Perhaps pitch or get them on board with something that can be where I'm not doing 50 different things for
Trent Moffat: Yeah, 50 different, yeah, I mean, that's a good news, bad news, right? Because the independents will work with you on a bunch of different things.
You could be in the cooler on this one and maybe a promo cooler on another one. The other one put you up front on display. So , that's actually a good thing , in many instances, cuz you know, a lot of 'em might have a trade publication or something else that they like to do. Or maybe they charge you for an end cap.
But it's hard to create something. To your point, cohesive. Where I have seen brands being successful recently is working with some kind of geotag, whether it be through Facebook or another one of the Instagram or something else on that level because we supply our vendors weekly with a street level address of everything that's been delivered, so they know what accounts what areas, and it's been pretty effective and it's pretty cost effective also [00:10:00] to, if you're in 30 accounts, for example, in Chicago.
Here are the zip codes and here's where we can start to target and here's my type of brand, by the way, cuz they can be very specific towards your consumer in those instances. And , it's pretty cost effective.
Molly: Thank you.
Jordan Buckner: I mean, along with that, have you found like, you know, unlike some, maybe some of the larger stores, we could do sampling tables and things, the independent allow sampling?
Or is that a thing there?
Trent Moffat: That's a great question. So pre Covid, we had a tremendous sampling team here that we just brought back on, buddy. You know, Six months, a year ago, that was probably the only thing we had to shut down. And really getting back up to speed, but nothing like putting a product in somebody's hands.
And we do it in the smallest store with small tables sometimes outside during the summer. But yeah, we do like the sampling activity in the store. It's just another sales tool because now we can sell multiple units off the cooler. You know, we track , what our folks do when there are sampling.
How many did they sell? In our salespeople, it's a full circle, right? So now the sampling manager lets the sales rep know that there's sampling coming up this week. So if you're outta two flavors, make sure you get 'em in. And then the sampling occurred and you're outta stock on three flavors. So now you've got just two reorders just on sampling alone, plus somebody's in the store.
And to your point early about [00:11:00] talking to a buyer, they're always busy. But if you're sampling in a store and you've got a good person there working with you for you, Step buyer's gonna get bored, and he is gonna come stand to you and talk to you about your product for 10 minutes and probably everything else, and not, you know, they're gonna have some time.
And then that's the time that they learn about your product. Why is it selling? Who's their consumer? And , it's not just the product you're selling, but it's also the impact you're having on the employees while you're there.
Jordan Buckner: I think that's the biggest thing where a lot of founders maybe outside of New York think like, oh, let me open up this chain.
We'll launch in a hundred stores or so, and I can be fairly hands off. It sounds like New York is very much about the ground game being in every single, you know, ev all the store level, having someone represent you there, gaining, know the buyers, knowing the distributors you're working with well, so that you can make sure that you not only get on the shelf there, but stay there.
Trent Moffat: And we sample anywhere from our independence that we open up on the DSD side to now working with tracks, we can, sample in to your point a hundred store chain to a 7,000 store chain and make that work just to get the product in people's hands and hopefully out the door.
Jordan Buckner: Awesome. Dr. Juan, I see you had a question on coupons. Do you wanna come on and ask.
Dr. Juan: Yes. Hi. How are you? Can hear me?
Hey, how's it going? [00:12:00] Just curious about the effectiveness of coupons, man. I've heard different opinions on package coupons.
Trent Moffat: So for us, for the independents. I mean, most of 'em don't, won't use 'em, right?
I've got a handful of stores that do, we'll, set 'em up in the system and, or set up for, you know, for clearing 'em out. But most of the independents are not typically, we'll just negotiate, if we give you an extra free case or we discount the price on the case, you know, for the next two weeks, can you put it on sale or do a two for five or something like that.
And we'll create signs or they'll create signs and we can do something like that. Coupons on a scale typically. I encourage it, you know, especially if you're getting into a larger chain and you wanna be able to promote and, and make sure that it works. They do work. Especially if you're attaching IRCs or something like that.
Something. We do those all the time. So, No, that's great.
Jordan Buckner: You know, one thing I have been seeing a lot come up are brands using digital rebate programs where essentially they can, you know, run an ad on social media or something in New York and say, Hey, shop at these locations here, a full store list. Buy the product, text the receipt, and then we will refund you or rebate you a certain amount, which send.
Trent Moffat: just, we're just doing some of that stuff with QR codes. We're [00:13:00] attaching QR code just out of a coupon that goes right to the website. So they get a discount that way. And you know, it's hit or miss. The IRCs, the coupons, whatever you hand out, you know, from a 4% redemption, a little higher.
Obviously , when it's attached to the product. If it's a neck hang or in a bottle, for example, you're gonna get a higher redemption. So you gotta look at the cost of that too. It's not like every single item's gonna be 50 cents off or a dollar off or a dollar 50. So
Jordan Buckner: yeah, that totally makes sense.
Topeka had a question on, I think understanding she should launch in the New York market. Topeka, do you wanna come on to ask a question?
So we are seeing some success in food service at a sustainable bottle water company. Wondering as we get into thinking about New York any advice you have on working with food service distributors or just food service space
Trent Moffat: Like any distributor, right? So the reason we start and we limit the brands, is so that we can actually accelerate into, you know, these accounts and get the brands moving before they go into a large distributor system and get lost. Food service can be just as daunting, you know, if you're looking at a bell doors all the way down to a Cisco.
It's huge, right? And to get in set in the system. Typically, , we do some food service here as [00:14:00] well. For brands that have started excel past three to six months, then we'll start to open 'em up to our food service division and work with them that way. What you want is an anchor, right?
So you'd wanna open up, if you're already in food service in another city, do they have other accounts here in New York that you can open up quickly? Because obviously that becomes an anchor. Mm-hmm. For them to start delivering. And then you could build on that. And like anything, if you ask someone, their top 10 accounts are who should you make connections with to build once you're in?
That's another good way to work with your distributors. Ask them where they want you to go. No sense in you opening up a food distributor account that's not there for that. They don't deliver to that. Somebody else does, because now the chances of them getting set up is not gonna happen.
Right? So if you're going to Chase Bank, and working through their food service, or you're working through, you know, Google here, , you wanna work with a distributor that's linked to that, and you also , wanna ask your distributors where to go. They'll help you.
Topeka: Any Small distributors, any place we can access a list of distributors we could work
Trent Moffat: So we work with 'em all. We don't really publish any kind of lists, but yeah, we've got 'em and we work with 'em. But you know, there certainly are. If you're looking in New York, for [00:15:00] example, and you've got a specific type of item, I would go in some stores and say, who's a great distributor for this item?
You know, whether it be toothpaste all the way to, salsa or a water, you know, who delivers a lot of water to you who delivers your salsa, you know, or eggs. No,
Topeka: understood. Thank you so much. Yes, of course.
Jordan Buckner: Trent I'm curious, are there are any or who are the influential kind of grocers or retailers that people are looking to in terms of seeing like what the next products coming in are?
Trent Moffat: So we've see for us for obviously Whole Foods is huge on that. Fairway's still big on that. Gourmet garage, you still have your larger, you know, union Square. You've got some key, quote unquote chains in the city. And then on the independence side, you still, west Side markets are, you know, cover the City.
Westerly has been an anchor account forever. Health and Harmony downtown, soon Act Brooklyn Harvest. You know, we've got city Acres has done a really good job food story here in Queens. You know, there are certain neighborhoods where they're almost like a a travel store where people go and, they're a destination store and we've seen that over and over again.
And other ones are just neighborhood stores.
Jordan Buckner: So, yeah, I know we've seen the rise of like you know, the Erwhons and Los Los Angeles areas, just being one of those influencers and stuff. Always [00:16:00] curious to know who some of those are. For sure. Well, I've been loving all the questions coming in. Anyone else have questions?
Feel free to drop those in the chat here, and then we can make sure they get those answered. Thinking about supporting those stores over time, right? Let's say you get the product in, you kinda get that first order. Were there some of the other things that you can do to like regularly check in with the stores and make sure that you're continuing to build that relationship in the way that's changing kind of throughout the year.
Trent Moffat: So I think a lot of. Focus we get is when we're doing route rides. So either the owner comes in or he is got a sales rep in the area that works with our team. You get a lot of feedback back and forth. One, back to the brand that these skews are doing well here. These skews are not doing well here.
These price points are a little high here, you know, so you get some direct sometimes when you see it. Versus hearing it from a note or a report or hearing it from me on a call. Actually seeing it, hearing it from a buyer makes a big difference. Plus, you're not just focused here, you're focused here.
Now you're looking at what competition A, B, and C are doing versus your product, and that that can make a big difference. Right. Or maybe something totally out of your thought process might [00:17:00] be, look, these guys are all doing shippers here. Maybe I need a shipper now because I'm starting to do some volume.
And I didn't even notice that. So hearing it and seeing it are two different things. I think being in the field certainly helps and buyers appreciate a founder coming in asking questions, how can I help? What do you see here? Obviously some are busy and they're just gonna throw you out, but you know, overall 80% of 'em won't work with you depending upon the time of the day and what you do.
Jordan Buckner: I know you see a lot of what goes wrong as well, Trent. So what are some of the top mistakes that you see brands making when they're trying to start here?
Trent Moffat: The biggest mistake I see for any brand new brand starting is they overproduce, right? Because it's the point of sale math, it's the co-packer math creating a 12 pack of a hundred thousand units.
It's almost the same as creating it for 10 to 20,000. You know it's the same math, right? But, but people don't take into account, they gotta pay for the labels, the caps. If it doesn't work, now you're paying to throw a product away or donate it if you can. And you wanna make a change. So you're trying to sell through tremendous amount of product.
And until it's on the shelf, it looks great in the hand. And when somebody brings in samples or on a cell sheet, but until it's [00:18:00] produced and it's on the shelf, you really don't. Know what it's gonna look like and what works and what doesn't without a couple of weeks go by and does it relate to the consumer?
And then maybe you wanna make a change on a mistake or a flavor. Maybe these flavors are something better than those. You wanna be able to be able to pivot pretty quickly and if you produce too much, it becomes difficult.
Jordan Buckner: No, that's good. What's the timeframe do you think it takes to really be successful in selling in New York?
Is it something that you can kind of kick off a launch in the summer and kind of let things snowball from there? Do you see it takes two, three years to really build up momentum? I mean, I know it's all about time.
Trent Moffat: No, didn't,
that's a great question. For us, it's a, we have one year contracts that we do with our brands, and then we go from month to month, if you know, they're not, Set up with a distributor, they're making a change.
We're just working through some things. But for us to go month to month in the backend is certainly a lot easier than, you know, starting at the first three months. But we found over time, it takes about a year on shelf, somewhere between months four and months eight is where you'll start to see if the reorders are really starting to click.
We're pretty good at setting up somewhere between 25 to a hundred accounts per month, depending upon the type of brand that it is. And [00:19:00] as you start to build that and it's got some time on the shelf, then you start to see the reorders or not, right. Sometimes you don't see the reorders coming at the rate you want and then you know you've got some issues you've gotta work through.
But on average, just about a year , is what we require here because we know it takes some time to develop and build. Perfect.
Jordan Buckner: Then Chatty mentioned you know, what's your opinion working with, you mentioned I guess he's considering working with a Korean distributor in the city that sells to Korean stores. Or maybe even just thinking about distributors who sell to certain types of stores throughout the city.
Trent Moffat: We work with a lot of em, and they're very good because they've got great relationships in the store. What you gotta realize though is they've got everything in that store, right from the salad dressing to the gum, to the kind bar. So the beverages paper towel, they've got everything inside that store, right?
So their catalog is vast and big. So if you're a brand new item, to think that you're gonna be called out every time a sales rep goes in from that distributor, oh, and by the way, we have a new product. You might be able to do a promotion, you know, a BOGO upfront or, you know, maybe an incentive for their sales reps.
But beyond the first two to four weeks, the brand's gonna have to have [00:20:00] legs and sand on its own. So, They're very good. I like to leave them for once the brand is built and we're getting inquiries and the realtors we're, do you almost, it's a hard one. And you're not gonna get in front of their sales team.
You're not gonna be able to meet with them regularly. They're just too busy and they've got too many brands. So their sales meeting is absolutely packed. A list of brands and what's new? They could be bringing in 10 to 15 brands a week, right? So you're gonna get lost pretty quickly if you don't have something that's a known item or known category, right?
Jordan Buckner: I mean, it kind of sounds as well as you mentioned. Do you see brands working with typically like one distributor that cover the city or are they working with 3, 4, 5 to hit everything?
Trent Moffat: I've seen both on the natural distributors, you know, and in some of the bigger, larger distributor, et cetera, they'll have a one contract say they can, to cover everything say in, you know, a Korean food service another independent distributor.
So I've seen both and I've seen both work successfully. On one side, you can get to a lot of nooks and cranny. It depends upon your brand too, right? If you've got a traditional beverage water brand, you probably wanna go with an exclusive distributor just to tackle it, and they're gonna go to the known quantity of retailers.
Whereas you might have a snacking cookie where you want to go into the Hudson [00:21:00] news and you want to go into the new shops and you wanna go to some of the smaller delis and larger delis. So it, it depends upon your product really. But The more distributors you have, obviously the more work.
And if you're national and you've got 12 distributors in New York, that becomes a lot to manage too. So
Jordan Buckner: Howard had a question. Howard, do you wanna come on and ask a question?
Howard: Sure. Hey, Trent. Hey, by the way I have worked with one of those Korean distributors outside of Secaucus. And, you know, they wanted you know, buy one pallet, get one free, and they wanted spiff for all their reps.
And you know, it got very unmanageable and but that was just one line. Sorry, that's very similar across the board. Yeah. So who knows if the reps even are. Or the owners are honest about the spiffs and all that stuff. So not many companies, manufacturers doing spiffs directly to distributors anymore, I don't think.
But anyway, I'm a small, independent broker in the Mid-Atlantic mostly due to mid-Atlantic states and to the Carolinas. And then I have one national product that I'm selling all over the country. Many [00:22:00] retailers are buying from faire and we have a hard time when the. Retailer goes directly to faire.
And if you have sold that product to the retailer before they're supposed to tell faire that I was buying it from x, y, z company. And so we get some credit and many retailers don't do that. So how does the broker, but also the How do we get the independence to buy from the distributor or directly from the manufacturer?
Trent Moffat: From us if it is just feed on the street, right? We're talking to the buyers in the stores directly to get those orders right. And that becomes obviously the larger it becomes and the masses, you know if you're talking in for one of the other big independent groups, we found that running a promo.
It does work because you know you're paying to be on the front of their sheet or the front of the website or something. That might work. But typically we've got a team that can go into those accounts with the sell sheet, talk to the buyer, work their own, try and get the order on some kind of promo deal, and it that works [00:23:00] also.
So for us it's expensive, right? Because you're putting a headcount in a store, selling a product, but it's also an investment the way we look at it, because once that product starts to turn, then. Hopefully it sells well. And then, you know, the brand has a life of its own and the buyer starts to take over those responsibilities.
But upfront, any brand you have, it's somebody's gonna have to take ownership of it.
Howard: Yeah, but the store is buying it from a distributor or they're buying it direct?
Trent Moffat: Depends. So we've got stores that could take it three different ways. And for us, mostly we just leave it up to them, whether, you know, we deliver ourselves and if they want to take it from Unify or from one of the distributors here that we're starting to grow with, I'd rather push it off our trucks and give it to where they want to put it and where they want to take it in from.
Cause that's long term growth. It's hard to fight a retail if he says, I want to go with X, Y, and Z. I know you wanna push sometimes in one direction, but. If it's easier for them, it's gonna help build your brand in that store. Yeah. Okay. Awesome.
Jordan Buckner: Thanks Howard. We had another question from Whites who asked, other than the Whole Foods, do you see New York retailers have restriction requirements on attributes like organic, free from more or less than in other markets?
Trent Moffat: Of course, but it's a segment, [00:24:00] right? So our health food markets health, health and harmony westerly, you know Provision. Some of the ones on the Hamptons, they've got a very tight list of what they can and can, won't carry. Right? But that's a segment. And then we've got other segments.
You know, if it's a Stevie account or something else to flavor sweeten with the different product, we've got delis that will take it as well. So to answer your question, yes, but it's a segment. You know how big the segment is? Probably about 10 to 15% of our accounts.
Jordan Buckner: Are there any unexpected types of accounts that brands should be looking at that aren't typical?
But I know you mentioned like deli's is one, but obviously it's big in New York, but if you're coming from another market, you might not think to like approach deli's. Can they have their markets? Are there other types of accounts like that?
Trent Moffat: Yes and no. Every market's a little different than what they have.
And it depends on your brand, right? So some brands wanna be in every single yoga studio that we can come up with, and we'll come up with a list and we'll go out and target em with them to build. Others might be looking for Maybe not something on that side, but maybe something on, you know, a unique type of account.
Like we've got boulders here that does rock climbing. So very few skews in there, but you can get your product in there and all of a sudden the whole neighborhood's kind of seen it cuz [00:25:00] it's a destination for the neighborhood. Others have done on-premise, others have done gyms for example, are a great way to get, you know, a regular person going in every day seeing your product.
It depends upon, you know, Literally depends on your product. Cause some of 'em won't fit in the gym. Right. So. Awesome.
Jordan Buckner: Cool. Well, as we're kind of wrapping up here, if anyone else had any questions, feel free to drop those in the chat as well. But Trent, any other kind of closing thoughts on what brands need to be doing either specifically in New York or in general to be successful that we haven't covered yet?
Trent Moffat: My best advice is just go into the stores where you'd like to be sold. Look at the shelf, look at the coolers, look at the space where you're supposed to be, and then you're gonna get a lot of information now just watching that shelf space. Who's buying the products that you're looking to sell similar items for?
If you're not in the store, if you are in the store looking at, are they looking at your product? They're not looking at your product you'll get a lot of information. Just being in the store and talking to the employees. They're happy to share all the data, you know, that they see from this item, and this item.
What packs out and. You'll even see when they bring out the U-boats. What are they packing out the most of? Is it from a flavor to a size to a [00:26:00] channel? So the second one,
Jordan Buckner: I guess this a another thing. Are there special displays that sos wanna take in terms of like off-shelf displays?
Trent Moffat: for us, we do a lot with shippers. I mean, cardboard used to be a lot cheaper. It's not so cheap anymore. I suppose the old, you know, wood racks, it, whatever rack you're gonna put in a store is gonna get thrown out. So just put that up front. It might last a week, it might last six months, but eventually it's gonna get tossed and they're gonna ask for it, whereas it, they're not gonna know and they're gonna please the company.
It's gone. But the cardboard for us, somewhere around. 12 by 12 is ideal. We'll go as far as 18 by 12 or 18 by 18 if you have to. But just imagine these, the floor space is tight. So if you can lessen the argument for them to say that there's no space and show them their space for this, and I would not do a program like that and tell the product starts to move.
Right? So if you take a regular beverage, for example, or a bar. You putting at the bar, at the register or the beverage in the cooler. And get people time to figure out which flavors they like , what they're looking for. Get people to try it, get some momentum going, and then build.
Then you can work into the shipper program. What [00:27:00] you don't want to do is just walk in with a shipper day one, fill it with 20 cases, and then. 18 cases come are still there, that when you come back, two cases went great, but for him, the buyer, it's all, you know in his head how fast things are going.
And it's all based on just that reality, right? So maybe two cases a lot in the first two weeks if it was sold in the cooler and you get a reorder. But if you put that on a shipper program with 20 cases, , he's gonna have a bad taste in this one. So just, you wanna grow, you don't want to just jump in.
Everybody wants to jump in with an end cap, but you gotta build in there.
Jordan Buckner: I've talked to some brands who are also kind of dabbling in certain account, or certain cities in certain markets, but I've heard that in New York in particular, the recommendation is don't go into New York unless you're fully in to making it successful, because it's very easy to get kicked out of of stores.
Do you think that's true?
Trent Moffat: Yes and no. I mean, so you got Midtown, we'll save for less. So we kind of work the same system, right? So we work our way through, you know, you could have a guy paying 40 to $80,000 a month in rent. He's not selling enough Coke and Pepsi to pay that rent. You know, so he's gotta have things that are just absolutely moving.
And if something's sitting for two [00:28:00] days, it might be your best account selling 40 cases in a week, but he's selling 200 cases of this and 400 cases of this. He's gotta have product going through the register to pay that rent at the end of the month and that, you know, is lease and that becomes where it becomes difficult.
Jordan Buckner: Perfect. Trent, thanks so much for joining today and for joining for this conversation. Thank you. Enjoyed it.