women timberland boots Expanding Successes Regional Products Such As Cape Cod Potato Chips And Soho Natural Soda Are Beginning To Find Fans Across The Nation
Expanding Successes Regional Products Such As Cape Cod Potato Chips And Soho Natural Soda Are Beginning To Find Fans Across The Nation.
August 5, 1987By DONNA FENN, New York Times Syndicate
Not long ago there was McDonalds, Budweiser, Coca Cola, Howard Johnson and Sears, Roebuck names that most Americans recognized and trusted. They still do, but in the past 10 years Americans have discovered something about this country that foreign visitors have always known: The United States is a nation of culturally diverse regions. It may be that brand loyalty, like patriotism, begins at home or pretty close to home.
Families in New Mexico gather around tables crafted of native ponderosa pine; New Yorkers stock their refrigerators with hometown brews. But local is not necessarily forever: Products such as Cape Cod Potato Chips and Soho Natural Soda have used the regional cachet to go national, making headlines and profits and whetting appetites for more regional products, including borrowed ones. Baltimoreans began wearing Timberland boots, Western wear showed up in the South, and New Englanders went for Cajun cooking, blackening everything that had fins.
Where did this rediscovery of local color begin? As we travel more and jobs take us to different locations, were looking to adapt and adopt, observes Tony Adams, director of marketing, research and planning at Campbell Soup Co. I see much more shared interest in regional products. Philadelphians want to try Tex Mex and Oregonians are eating New England clam chowder.
For the past four years the Vermont Department of Agriculture has been helping specialty food producers to market their goods in and out of state by underwriting and organizing their participation in trade shows. The word Vermont has tremendous marketing power, says Steve Wallach, the departments chief of information. We prize the environment here. Vermont conjures up an image of clean, pure air and high quality.
At least 50 Vermont producers use the state name on their labels, and many gather under their state banner at national food shows. The word Vermont makes the product move,
While New Englands aura certainly contributes to the marketability of its native products, the regions economic boom is giving local businesses a boost, too. That may help to explain the success of a company whose sole product sells for about $350 (plus a $20 delivery charge). For three years Boston based Geoffrey Kerr has been manufacturing the Original Gloucester Rocker, a miniature rocking boat for children, originally designed by Buckley Smith, a boat builder and sailor who made it for his son.
The toy boat is modeled after a classic Gloucester fishing dory, and while its price is hefty, Kerr says it is intended to be handed down as an heirloom. Being situated in a region often referred to as the land of enchantment does not hurt, though, as Bob Powell, owner of Taos Furniture, discovered.
Powell, a 50 year old former stockbroker who left Los Angeles for a simpler life in New Mexico, bought a failing Santa Fe company called Hills Furniture in 1977. The company had been manufacturing Southwestern style, made to order furniture for a largely local market. There wasnt much left except some tools, a shop and some ideas, Powell remembers. But I thought that if I were really good I could sell the furniture in other areas.
That turned out to be an understatement. Powell changed the companys name to reflect the product more accurately. Taos has a rich cultural and artistic heritage, he says. The Spanish immigrants who settled the place several hundred years ago built their own furnishings a primitive look, but darn good designs.
Each piece of custom furniture, made of native ponderosa pine, is crafted by one person who signs and numbers the work. Now a lot of the larger national furniture companies are knocking off what weve been doing here for years, developing what they call their Santa Fe look, says Powell, who attributes this partly to the growth of Arizona cities.
The trend has given Powells business an enormous boost. Revenues are between $1 million and $2 million,
and the company is growing at a 25 percent a year compounded rate.