Gluten-Free Entrepreneurs: To Market To Market
In the popular children’s book To Market, To Market, one woman’s shopping trip turns hectic when the animals she buys run amok in her kitchen. These days, though most of us don’t go to the market to buy a live animal, many of us still know that hectic feeling of going to the grocery store to gather countless ingredients and pick out the perfect seasonings for a recipe. Luckily, there are some ways to make life a little easier. One company in particular has successfully created delicious, gluten-free spice mixes to help you make dips that are just as fun as they are simple. Like the old children’s tale, this company is also called To Market-To Market.
Nestled in the Sweetheart City of Loveland, Colorado, To Market-To Market has been owned and operated by Kent and Eileen Heusinkveld for more than six years. The previous owner started the company in 1982.
In the 1990’s, Eileen Heusinkveld was introduced to the spice mixes and fell in love. In 2007, the Heusinkvelds bought the company and moved it from Oregon to its current home in Loveland. The Heusinkvelds had a mix of business experience, from Kent managing golf courses to Eileen running her own kitchen retail store and gift basket business. The venture into the spice mix business wasn’t something they had planned on, but it turned out to be an opportunity to have a flexible business where they could work together—something they had always wanted to do. “It was a challenge to us yet it was something that the two of us could work together on to grow,” Kent said. “It doesn’t come without frustration, but the frustrations can be shared.”
The couple’s previous businesses and To Market-To Market are “as different as night and day,” Kent said. “The common denominator is we always see it through the customer’s eyes—are we delivering a good product, are we delivering it at the right price, and are they getting good value—that runs predominantly through all successful businesses.”
Prior to the Heusinkvelds taking ownership of To Market-To Market, the company’s products were already gluten-free. The couple found no reason to change that when they bought the company. In fact, they have discovered many benefi ts in keeping the products gluten-free. “I don’t think it restricts us at all,” Kent said. “It is wonderful to offer a product that is good for both celiacs and non-celiacs. When you have a product, you want to have it be attractive to as many people as possible.” To Market-To Market’s products include spice packets for creating dips, mixes for creating cheese balls, and dip chillers which are used to keep the products cold. All products are gluten-free, contain no MSG, and are salt-free with the exception of one variety. Regarding ingredients, “Our philosophy is if you can’t pronounce it, why would you want to put it in your body?” Kent said.
Aside from fulfilling a niche market, another characteristic that is unique to the company is the fun, clever names they have for their products. The previous owner had created interesting names for the spice mixes and as the Heusinkvelds rolled out new products, they too developed clever names to go along with the product line. “We got as many as 20 people involved in tasting them and coming up with names,” Kent said. With names like Romancing Romaine, A Date to Remember, and Some Like it Hot, the company is finding clever ways to promote seasonal sales—in this case, for Valentine’s Day.
When asked how the product names influence consumers, Kent said, “I think it gets their attention, but I think the taste influences their purchase.”
Taste, of course, is the most important factor, but simplicity is also one of the keys to their success. Making a dip is as simple as adding a couple tablespoons of the spice packet to sour cream, mayonnaise, or other basic condiments. And with each packet yielding 4 to 10 cups of dip, these spice mixes can make your life simpler many times over.
If the hectic children’s story To Market, To Market has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes the best choice is the simplest one.