How Your Cookout Could Help a Small Business

This is part of a series of posts sharing conversations with our local farmers and producers. Our suppliers are working harder than ever as they navigate their way through the Covid-19 crisis. Each of their stories is as unique as the products they offer. And more than ever, we are grateful for their hard work, resilience, and ingenuity.

Q-and-A with Vermont Hills Teriyaki

Years ago Patrick stumbled upon this amazing sauce at the local hardware store of all places! He decided to give it a try and was blown away by the flavor. We’ve carried it at the Market ever since. The quality is outstanding … and truly worth the extra cost.

And, by the way, it’s for vegans, too! Amelia shared this tip from Roger, co-owner of Vermont Hills Teriyaki:  Try it on grilled delicata squash. Or anything else, for that matter. You really can’t go wrong.

Here’s what Roger had to say when we asked how business is going:

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your business?
A. We started selling our sauce at the Rutland Farmers Market years ago because our twin daughters were going to college and we needed to finance our part of their education. Over the years, we’ve evolved to three different flavors in 8 oz. and 10 oz. bottles, online sales, two farmers’ markets, multiple sources for ingredients, and updated labels, as well as more expansive offerings.

Q. What makes your product unique or special?
A. We believe our product is excellent quality with amazing flavor. We use domestic non-GMO soy sauce, garlic and onion and EVO, with no added water or corn syrup.  It sticks right out of the bottle. You can use less and marinate in less time. Our sauce works on most everything; our customers are quite creative foodies.

Q. Who do you rely on as your customer base?
A. Our customers are extremely supportive; many have been with us for years. Lots say they try other brands only to return to Vermont Hills Teriyaki. Many say when visiting families, they ask for them to bring maple syrup and our teriyaki. We have a strong consumer franchise.

Q. How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your business?
A. We chose not to continue selling our product at farmers’ markets in Rutland and Waitsfield. Although the loss of these markets has cut into our gross income, retail and online sales have increased. We’ve picked up a number of new customers who are ordering multiple bottles, indicating that backyard grilling has increased because of Covid-19. On the production side, obtaining bottles has been a challenge.

Q. What changes have you made to adapt to the current situation?
A.  We’ve increased our online exposure and maintained constant contact with retail stores to ensure that our product is available.

Q. What is your experience as a business owner now compared to before the crisis?
A. In past years we relied on farmers’ markets to increase our customer base, exposure, and income. The loss of these markets has changed our business model, as you would expect.

Q. Has there been a “silver lining” in this crisis for you and/or your business?
A. Yes, our consumer franchise is stronger than we thought.

Find out more about Vermont Hills Teriyaki.

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