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Land your product on store shelves with these tips

By Marty Minchin
Correspondent

Q: How can I convince stores to carry my products?

What entrepreneurs can say or show about their products in 30 seconds can make all the difference.

Once a great idea is turned into a product, the next challenge is finding venues that will sell it. A good pitch, plenty of confidence and persistence are key.

Leslie Suber, creator of Sadie’s Caribbean Fish Cakes, moved to Charlotte six years ago to pursue a dream of turning her mother’s fish cake recipe into a successful business.

“It’s something I started making for my friends, and they really enjoyed it,” Suber said. “I wanted to see if it could be produced and sold because really there is nothing like it in the stores.”

She had moved south from New York and left a job as a real estate paralegal. Needing help with making and marketing the fish cakes, she took a food business course at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, a business incubator in Asheville.

Sadie’s Caribbean Fish Cakes, handmade, pre-prepared fritters made with all-natural ingredients, are now sold in several Charlotte-area groceries and 26 Whole Foods stores in the Southeast.

Suber offers the following advice for entrepreneurs looking to convince stores owners to carry their products.

• Know your product, and believe in it. To successfully pitch a product to a store, it’s important to believe that it is unique and marketable.

“You have to highlight what are the qualities that would make that customer for that store purchase your product,” Suber said.

Make sure that you can articulate how your product is different and why customers will be interested in it.

• Show how your product will make the store money. Suber recommends this information be early in your pitch.

• Make your pitch short and to the point. Some stores owners only allow minutes for an entrepreneur to pitch a product. Suber said when she pitched her crabcakes to Whole Foods, the meeting lasted five minutes.

•  Display your product well. Sometimes the product will sell itself. Suber often heats up several crabcakes and presents them on a plate to potential clients. When she met with a Whole Foods manager, Suber offered him a warm crabcake.

“He said, ‘Oh, this is great! This is perfect and what we are looking for,’ ” she said. “It was just magical.”

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