It was a NC hot and humid summer day. Kristen enthusiastically greeted customers under her Big Bundts hot pink and white tent at the Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market, and encouraged passerbys to sample her yummy baked treats. She confidently knew if she could just get people to taste her product, they would purchase time and time again.
Christine needed some fresh, local veggies for an impromptu dinner with friends, so she ventured to the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market to peruse the colorful bounty. As she strolled by the local meat guys, and the aromatic coffee roaster, a tall, happy woman in a chef coat caught her eye...and so did the samples the lady was pimping. “Hi, would you like to try my bundts?” Kristen proposed. “That’s quite an intimate offer!” Christine giggled. The two cracked each other up! It was inevitable that a friendship would begin…
That day, many years ago, began another vital relationship, too. You see, Christine’s client, Merritt’s Store and Grill in Chapel Hill, was, by chance, looking for a local baked good to sell, “for a little something sweet after a delicious BLT,” the owner, Robin Britt requested. As luck would have it, Christine took one bite of Kristen’s Brownie Bite, and knew Merritt’s had to have it!! “THESE!! So good! Are you interested in making and packaging these for a quick-serve restaurant that I work with?” Christine inquired. “YES!!” Kristen replied with much zest!
This is where the beauty happens in small business. Relationships. One person works with a business, meets another person who has a great product, introductions are made, and before you know it, the relationship is going on longer than most marriages. But they can’t be taken for granted. There needs to be mutual respect for each other. This is the foundation of a GREAT business relationship. Some will argue, “The customer is ALWAYS right.” Well, in most instances this is true, but in a small business relationship, there is almost a “family-like” quality to the relationship. When you consistently see each other, and have conversations, you truly begin to care about the people in that business, as well as, the business health. You know family member names, employees’ names and their family names...it becomes something bigger than the initial “courting.”
The Merritt’s Store and Grill relationship with Big Bundts has evolved into a beautiful commitment...each business is truly vested in the other’s success. Several years ago, Merritt’s envisioned “throwback” sweet treats to sell at the nostalgic Chapel Hill BLT empire, and Big Bundts was thrilled to develop a line of scratch-made Hostess-like treats -- chocolate snack cakes, cinnamon-sugar vanilla Twankies, and oatmeal cremes. These childhood favorites are a huge success at Merritt’s, and we couldn’t be more proud to have our beloved products savored after a double BLT!
The Big Bundts relationship with Merritt’s Store and Grill has continued throughout challenging times, too. It was with extreme sadness that Kristen, Christine, and the Big Bundts employees had to say goodbye to the lovely matriarch of Merritt’s, Robin Britt. Losing Robin to illness was like losing our best friend or sister. She understood the value of relationships in life, business, and love...and boy, could she love. Her love exuded out of Merritt’s and out of everything she did to build Merritt’s Store and Grill to the success it is today. The relationship with Robin Britt has impacted Big Bundts beyond her death. We use her wisdom and love to guide us in our decisions daily...she taught us how to put “love” into all of our cakes. Happily, the current Merritt’s management and staff have continued to cultivate a nurturing relationship with us, and we are always trying to find ways to mutually benefit our respective businesses.
Relationships. The heart of our successful businesses. Be open to exploring new places, new things, and meeting new people...you never know what beauty may lie around the corner...or what fun you may find creating a new relationship.
*Next time you're in Chapel Hill, NC, be sure to stop at Merritt's Store and Grill, 1009 S. Columbia St. Try the BLT with pimento cheese...YUM!!! And finish off with one of our delicious sweets...chocolate snack cake, Twankie, or oat creme!!!