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Potato salad is a staple of the American diet, especially during summer picnics and fairs. Take a family recipe or desire to prepare healthy potato salad and turn the food into a small business. Once shoppers know the product, they’ll return to buy more and that will help your potato salad company form a base of satisfied customers. Obtain the right permits to ensure compliance with local and state regulations.
Use a mixture for potato salad that is based on a family recipe, personal combination of ingredients, or another taste geared to a geographic area such as “cajun.” Compare the taste to other potato salads on the market whether sold in grocery stores or in restaurants. Determine the unique competitive advantage, which is what Melissa Marks did when she started SisMelissFamily Recipes Salad Dressing using extra virgin olive oil to differentiate her similarly priced salad dressings. Find a niche such as a “mayonnaise free” potato salad for healthy meals.
Learn state laws on starting a food business from credible sources. Start with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture website to locate a land grant university that has a Cooperative Extension Systems Office. Get certified in food safety and handling food from the Food Safety Institute of America. Pass exams from the institute to get a food handler's permit for the local county where the business will operate. Contact the local city to get a tax exemption to purchase from wholesale companies that supply the restaurant business.
Select a food broker to buy potatoes and the ingredients. Use a business directory like Harris Info Source, an annual print directory available at local libraries, to choose a company that sells potatoes at wholesale prices. Purchase liability insurance. "I asked my car insurance company and they sent me to an agent in a separate company who handles liability for small businesses," Marks said about the process.
Contact the director of the local farmers’ market and pay for booth space. Give samples to customers and ask for their feedback on the taste. Let them know the product is new. Sell the product at a price slightly below the cost of potato salad in local grocery stores and delicatessens. Use the website Localharvest.org to locate farmers’ markets in any zip code listing.
Use positive customer feedback as a reason to contact a local, niche chain store and ask how to participate in the local vendor program. Give the manager a sample and express your willingness to start with a small amount of shelf space and demonstrate the product during high traffic days in the stores like Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday evenings.
Create a basic five page website with simple e-commerce functionality. Use an online template from a reputable hosting company, a Wordpress template, or hire a local designer. Create the home page with a personal picture and product; a second page with a story on how the potato salad company started; place the description of ingredients and ideas how to serve potato salad on the third page. On the fourth page list the stores and other locations where your potato salad can be purchased. Use the fifth page to list company contact information. Include a customer testimonial on each page, if possible.
Test market the taste with friends, family, and local shoppers. Be prepared to make adjustments. Have enough money to purchase ingredients, packaging, permits, and rent space in a commercial kitchen.
Do not bypass any permits or insurance costs. The resulting liability and fines could cost much more than the price of proper coverage.
- Interview with Melissa Marks, SisMeliss.com
- Food Safety Institute of America
- Harris Info Source
Don Simkovich writes Southern California travel articles and news pieces for business professionals; to date his writing has expanded the online presence of local businesses. Simkovich attended the University of Pittsburgh, has a Master of Arts in communication management from the University of Southern California. His writing has appeared online in WSJ, USA Today and Desert Publications.