Michigan woman opens storefront for spice business
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By RACHEL GRECO
Lansing State Journal
GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (AP) _ Pam Redman's business selling her own dry spice mixes for use in dips and salsa generates more than half a million dollars a year in sales, but it was born out of necessity with $100 worth of ingredients and one craft show booking.
Redman, now 53, had no choice 15 years ago. She was out of options. After her husband Kerry Redman suffered a debilitating shoulder injury he couldn't go back to his job as a licensed plumber, and the couple went two years with only one income.
Redman's paycheck from her marketing job eventually wasn't enough to cover the monthly mortgage payment on their Grand Ledge home, she told the Lansing State Journal .
``We were going down the tubes,'' Redman said. ``I thought, `I have to do something. I can't just give up.'''
Their savings were depleted, so Redman decided to join friends, who had booked a table at a craft show in northern Michigan to sell items they'd made.
Handy in the kitchen, with a knack for mixing spices to create different flavors, Redman took $100, bought some spices and created four different dip mixes to sell.
She came home from the show with nearly $800 in sales. It was enough to make that month's house payment, and proof that her mixes had the makings of a successful business.
Over the last decade the venture, dubbed ``Pam's Pantry,'' has become a regular at craft shows all over the country and a substantial family-run business.
Today Redman has a busy website and products for sale at a few hundred stores around the country, including a few local spots.
Pam's Pantry recently took the next logical step, Redman said. She opened her first store front in downtown Grand Ledge.
From the front room at Pam's Pantry's, customers can walk in and purchase the company's signature spice blends. When mixed according to package directions with the ingredients on the label they create everything from dips, dressings, chicken salad, cheesecakes and barbecue sauces.
And they are largely Redman's recipes.
``I'm kind of a foodie,'' she said. ``I love to cook. I'm one of those people who will throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and see what I get. I've always done a lot with spices.''
Today Pam's Pantry sells nearly 90 mix combinations, including bestseller Hog Heaven, a bacon, onion, garlic and tomato dip Redman made for her sister. There are also varieties like Sassy Sausage and Veggie Delight.
A few are even named after family members, and Redman said while she came up with most of them, several were created by daughter-in-law Natasha Redman, who was behind the cash register at the Grand Ledge store on Nov. 27 helping her mother-in-law prepare for the store's opening, which was Dec. 1.
The new shop also sells bulk spices, gift baskets filled with their mixes, and Michigan-made soaps, salsas and candy. Redman plans to add items such as mittens, snacks and candles to the inventory in the future. The space utilizes less than half of the 1,900-square-foot building.
The rest will serve as a production site for the 10,000 to 20,000 spice packages staff measure and fill every week by hand.
On average Pam's Pantry sells its creations at between 350 and 400 different craft shows every year. Some are in Michigan, but Redman and her staff travel as far away as New York and Texas too.
``It's just time,'' Redman said of the decision to open a brick and mortar store. ``We feel like we're at the point where we've built a big enough following that it's not going to be the store supporting the business. That's already established, but we want customers to have a place where they can visit us.''
Craft shows will remain a big part of the business, Redman said.
Pam's Pantry staff, which includes several family members, travel most weekends to set up and sell at shows, and the business is now a wholesale supplier to a national floral company too.
Redman made enough after six years to quit her full-time marketing job entirely, but she said Pam's Pantry's growth still surprises her.
``We've been blessed,'' she said. ``I don't think I've ever had time to really stop and think about it. It really has been just this past year that I've stopped and thought, `How did I get here?'''
Natasha Redman said her mother-in-law did it with drive.
``She knows what she's doing,'' she said.
Redman said she's leasing the building, and dreams about expanding again in the near future into a bulk food store.
``I never ever, in my wildest dreams imagined this is where we'd be,'' Redman said. ``I've lived in the area all my life. We have a deep history here, and this is a start. It kind of brings home our roots here.''
Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com
By The Associated Press, Copyright 2017