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Rocky Mountain Food Tours

No one decides to completely change their business model in just five days for fun. They do it out of necessity.

 

RMFT Gift Box 4-Image Banner

 

Just two months ago, we were busy with new restaurant recruitment, creating new tour routes, and getting ready to post multiple job openings. The future was bright, and we were excited for the summer of 2020. Last year, we experienced a 30% growth over the previous year, and we were on track to do even better.

What came next threw everyone for a loop. Our business, along with others, came to a screeching halt overnight. The two industries our business relied on most, dine-in food service and tourism, were shut down under fast-moving restrictions. And while we understood the restrictions and did not disagree with them, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss. We quickly began cancelling tours, cutting hours, cancelling marketing contracts, and processing refunds for summertime tour deposits to the tune of thousands of dollars.

In the beginning, I was shocked. Was this even real? How could things change so quickly? It was easy in those early days to feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all, and not just about my business or the economy or anything that could be eventually repaired, but about the lives of those who were threatened by this invisible virus wreaking havoc throughout our communities.

 

RMFT Packaging Supplies

 

A few weeks passed, and my naive optimism that things would soon return to normal began to fade away. What came in like a lion would not, in fact, go out like a lamb. Our recovery would take longer and be much more gradual. Restrictions, though they were layered on quickly, would be peeled off slowly, revealing our “new” normal – whatever that may be.

Watching businesses innovate and pivot was inspiring to me. Breweries setting up deliveries ice-cream-truck-style, cafes turning into grocery stores, chefs offering ready-to-make meals with online cooking classes all proved to me how resilient and creative people truly are. Certainly there was something we could do to stay relevant and continue “singing our song,” if you will, albeit with a few new lyrics.

Our strengths lie in telling the story of our community through its food and culture. And while we cannot bring people into our community through our tours, we decided to find a way to bring some of what makes our community great to the people.

 

RMFT The Start of Box Assembly

 

Originally, we pursued an idea that ended abruptly with a closed door. We had spent a decent amount of time on this idea, and thankfully we had begun the process of getting our sales tax licenses in place as they would be needed for the idea we did eventually land on.

We had a staff meeting on Friday late afternoon to brainstorm. Someone brought up gift boxes. This was actually something I thought of more than five years ago but didn’t pursue due to the logistical challenges I knew would be involved.

After sleeping on it, I decided to go full-steam ahead. We might not be able to do food tours, but we could deliver locally-curated gift boxes safely, giving people the opportunity to celebrate their moms while maintaining social distancing practices.

 

RMFT Gift Boxes in Car

 

By Sunday night, less than 48 hours later we had built out a new Shopify website and curated products to launch an online pop-up store featuring Mother’s Day Gift Boxes. Each box had a theme and was filled with products sourced as close to Colorado Springs as possible.

More than 50 friends and family members agreed to review the site and provide their feedback, which helped us whittle our main product offerings down from six to three, and also create a new product we hadn’t even considered.

By Wednesday morning, five days after our brainstorming meeting, we went live. In the first 24 hours, we sold more than 50% of our boxes!

We had 10 days to sell the remainder, which only took eight days, even after adding new inventory. While monitoring the sales, we were frantically working out the myriad of details – packaging, printing custom cards, product lists that would be inserted into the boxes, delivery routes, etc. Then came the actual box assembly. With no exaggeration, we spent three hours just tying bows!

Nearly 80 boxes went out for delivery the weekend of Mother’s Day, and the previous two weeks of exhausting work was rewarded with lots of mamas feeling loved and appreciated. We also had the opportunity to help support multiple local businesses during a tough time including Bonbon Bombardier, CocoPrana, Pikes Peak Lemonade, Loyal Coffee, The Queen’s TEApothecary, and Simple Body. It was tough, but satisfying work.

 

RMFT Gift Box on Doorstep

 

Rest assured that we will be back to leading food tours when the time is right. But for now, we are proud to have accomplished something that met a need and helped our community. Be on the look out…they say Father’s Day is coming up soon, and we all know how hard it is to shop for dad!!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention something too sentimental, too serendipitous to leave out – Mother’s Day this year was on May 10, the same day my mom and I started this business exactly 10 years ago. What better way to celebrate the coming of age of our business and to show the world (and ourselves) that this old dog can still learn new tricks.

To Hope and Good Health – Samantha Wood, Owner

 

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