It was announced in recent weeks that two major east coast grocery store chains, BiLo and Tops, are preparing to enter into chapter 11 bankruptcy. In some ways we feel fortunate that neither of these companies owe us any cash, so we will be unscathed; but, on the other hand, this news further underscores the dramatic changes rampant in the grocery industry. Both of these chains are quite substantial in their respective markets – BiLo with over 200 stores in the southeast and Tops with around 180 stores in upstate New York; yet, their considerable size did not prevent them from sliding into obsolescence.
As a smaller supplier, Pretzel Pete must continue to pick its battles for distribution carefully. Gone are the days when manufacturers simply plunge ahead with any/all grocery chains relying on them to be the primary outlet for their products. The terrain is much more treacherous and complicated now. We have been slowing backing away from the grocery platform for distribution and looking at each opportunity on a case-by-case basis. This strategy is frustrating in some ways as Pretzel Pete fans sometime complain that it is difficult to find our products. However, on the other hand, the slower growth route does protect us from the being exploited by the large, national grocery chains and distributors and falling victim to the financials pitfalls unveiled in these most recent announcements. As we continue to build out our distribution channels, we will do our best to communicate this to our customers near and far but, in the meantime, we appreciate our customers who must make a little more effort to find our products than some of our competitors.’