Small Businesses Find Success on the Shelves of Wegmans
01/25/2024 · Collaboration
When Eddie Harris transitioned from restaurant owner to Boss Sauce creator, developer, and supplier in Rochester, New York, he knew he had something special. All it would take was the right retailer giving him a shot and working side-by-side with him as his business grew.
Nearly 40 years ago, he walked into a conference room at Wegmans with a presentation and some barbeque covered in his signature sauces. Twenty people sat around the table enjoying the delicious food and listening to Eddie share his dreams of making Boss Sauce a household name.
“All it takes is tasting it,” says Eddie. “I knew once people tasted it, there would be a demand and I was right! It’s also an easy item to cross merchandise with the meat department and is shelf stable, which makes it a great item for every kitchen.”
Now his hot and mild sauces are in all 110 Wegmans stores, with additional flavors being sold in Wegmans across New York state, as well as corner stores and meat markets in the Rochester area. Eddie expects the new Boss Marinade to be ready for summer cookouts. He added that he hopes to continue expanding so he can provide more jobs to people in Rochester.
Eddie isn’t the only business owner who won Wegmans over with a taste test. Back in 2011, Tiffany Huntley brought samples of her Huntley’s Seafood Dippin’ Sauce to our Woodmore, Maryland, store looking for the manager. She connected with Store Manager Aundray Harding, who was impressed with the dip, her enthusiasm, and commitment to food safety.
“She was so excited to share her dipping sauce with me,” recalls Aundray. “She had our shrimp and some raw vegetables displayed nicely on a tray, with a huge smile on her face. That dip was delicious on all if it – shrimp, carrots, everything!”
Aundray agreed to take the sauce to our merchandising team, and the process of getting shelf space began. Erin Heckman, category merchant for international food, sauces, and condiments, says it takes time and effort to make it to the store.
“Not only do these small business owners need to understand food safety and other requirements, but they also need to be prepared for the high volume of customers we get in stores,” says Erin. “We want to be sure that the production and distribution can keep up with demand. And just as important, we want to work with businesses who align with our values.”
Boss Sauce and Huntley’s are both family companies, with Eddie’s sister Regina assisting in running the day-to-day operations at Boss Sauce, while Tiffany’s mother and children often help restock Huntley’s six different sauces on the shelves in Woodmore Wegmans during their weekly grocery run.
Eddie and Tiffany say they have seen growth and name recognition because of their placement on Wegmans shelves and have expressed gratitude for the support and encouragement Wegmans has provided along the way. In return, Wegmans gets access to unique, high-quality products that customers might not find anywhere else.
Beyond the Aisle
Listen to the conversations Senior Public Relations Coordinator Mandee Puleo and Erin had with both Tiffany (part 1) and Eddie (part 2) about their unique sauces.
Part 1: Huntley’s
Part 2: Boss Sauce
Going “beyond the aisle” allows us to dig deeper into stories that highlight our people, our products, and our community in a whole new way.