When Texas natives Colonel Dean Alexander and his wife Nan started popping kernels in 1979, they didn’t know the results would guide them into a whole new business. But you can’t keep a good kernel down, and the couple launched Deanan Gourmet Popcorn. For years, this family-owned business–now run by the Colonel and Nan’s five kids–focused on fundraising, selling packs of their delicious, all-natural popcorn to schools, churches, and nonprofits who would turn around and sell it for a greater dollar amount. But over the past few years, Deanan Gourmet Popcorn has matured into a retail-ready brand led by Barbara Hodge, CEO. With the help of Karen Alexander, Director of Business Development, and RangeMe, they’ve gotten into a major retailer. Read on to see how Deanan Gourmet Popcorn got the attention of Aldi buyers on RangeMe.
What makes Deanan Gourmet Popcorn pop?
Deanan Gourmet Popcorn isn’t your ordinary popcorn. Each bag of Deanan Popcorn is seasoned with some of Texas’s most authentic flavors that stand the test of time, like “Texas Two-Step,” a mix of caramel and cheddar; “Texas Heat”, a mix of spicy cheddar and white cheddar jalepeño; “Texas Wildflower,” vanilla-flavored in six fun colors; “Say Cheese,” a blend of white and yellow cheddar cheese, and “Say Hot,” a blend of white cheddar and jalapeño.
All of Deanan Gourmet Popcorn blends are made from all-natural ingredients sourced in the United States and each batch is popped and packaged right in Wylie, Texas.
From fundraising to retail shelves
For years, fundraising was the lifeblood of Deanan Gourmet Popcorn, but now they are ready to grow their wholesale market. “We entered a contest hosted by HEB for the ‘Quest of Texas’s Best,’” Alexander says. “We entered the contest and made it into the top 25 out of over 800 contestants.” That prompted HEB’s interest in their products.
“They were interested in our products, but we didn’t have grocery bags yet,” Alexander continues. “So they helped us determine which three flavors to start packaging in grocery bags and within six months we were on the shelf of 65 stores, and then grew to be sold in 100 of their stores last year,” explains Alexander.
During this process, Deanan Gourmet Popcorn signed up for RangeMe. “We had a great call with a Customer Success Manager at RangeMe who walked me through everything I could do to boost our visibility amongst retail buyers,” says Alexander. “They explained how important keywords are and how to use Insights. Getting that insight and detailed explanations about how to improve our profile was priceless.”
They quickly upgraded to RangeMe Premium once they got grocery bags for all their flavors. Fast forward a few months and a buyer from Aldi reached out with a sample request which turned into a purchase order–and now Deanan Gourmet Popcorn is being sold in 138 Aldi stores in the Texas area.
“It’s really cool that Aldi found us on RangeMe. Aldi was looking for a smaller company, with a story and history, and they’ve really helped us through this process,” Alexander says.
Stand out with certifications on RangeMe
Supplier diversity is becoming a need for many retailers. As we enter in 2020, certification searches on RangeMe are becoming increasingly popular. Karen Alexander saw the importance of getting Deanan Gourmet Popcorn certified.
“We knew getting kosher certified was something we wanted to do, so we did about a year ago. This was actually something that Aldi was searching for on RangeMe and they were excited to find out we are a kosher product.” Alexander continues, “We also got our Good Manufacturing Certification (GMP), Women-Owned Small Business Certification, and Go Texan Certification.”
On the horizon
The journey from fundraising to retail shelves has been a learning experience for Deanan Gourmet Popcorn. “We were surprised at the smaller case packs retailers order in comparison to fundraising. We also learned a lot about sourcing packaging, different box sizes, and about insurance restrictions,” says Alexander.
With the help of being on RangeMe, Alexander has big plans this year to implement more best practices on their profile such as using the Share feature when they attend the Summer Fancy Food Show and other trade shows. “The process of getting into retail is not instant but the rewards are huge,” she says.