Local Markets: Artizone Connects Artisans to Online Sales

If you haven’t heard about Artizone yet, you probably aren’t aware of how easy they’ve made it to shop with local Artisans online now.

“Being able to bring small batch artisans to people’s homes is what we’re all about,” explains Artizone’s COO, Lior Lavy. “Artizone is honored to have many of Chicago’s great purveyors [Buedel included] choose our company’s technology and services to help develop strategies for building their online sales channels.”

Artizone came to Chicago in 2012, just two years after starting in the Dallas market. With plans to expand into additional markets this year, Artizone is poised to be the innovative leader in uniting local Artisanship with online shopping.

Is Artizone essentially a Peapod for Artisans?

That’s a fair statement, but what you really mean is grocery shopping only. Everything you buy [from Artizone] is from small vendors and local. If we don’t have a “core” item, we can source it locally – if we don’t have it by a local artisan, we try to buy from local retailers and businesses.

ArtizoneDiagramHow did the idea for Artizone come about?

I was the last hire of an executive branch of a French based [software] company in 2009. I say ‘last hire’ because, on the very same day they hired me, corporate management unleashed a major reorganization with big cut backs. When this happened, the executives that hired me chose to break away, hired key people that were let go and decided to create a new company.

We sat down to think about what kind of direction could keep everyone engaged and then looked for new ideas. We all had a passion for small businesses – for people who love what they do, not because they get paid for it. We all loved, cooking, traveling and finding good places to eat.

In 2009, you didn’t know what you were shopping for online, what the product really was. We believed if we could combine online shopping and food and, could own 360 degrees of the transaction, we could provide the artisans with everything they need, and all they needed to do was provide the product.

The more we dove in, we found the small businesses had such a hard time trying to sell to large grocery stores. You have to look at what happened in the market in the last six years. You had the butcher, today the butcher shop becomes a specialized niche – the demand changed. But not everyone is going to drive necessarily in to the city to buy meat at Paulina Market. By having Paulina available through Aritzone, you can shop at that level anytime.

Since starting in Dallas, what differences were there between that market and Chicago’s?

There is no competition in Dallas for online grocery. We’re the only one in the market. Dallas gets more regular items ordered than Chicago. In Chicago there is a high demand for gluten free items – we may have the biggest amount of gluten free items online now.

We’re also very excited about being at the Good Food Festival later this month – we will be bringing home cooked meals to the event!

You also have nationwide delivery; how is that going?

We want to help small artisans reach that market level; there’s no reason not to ship consumable packaged goods. But, it always needs to make sense – once you go nationwide, it’s no longer the place where you grocery shop, but where you find products.

What about wholesale opportunities?

We do have a B2B service. Buyers can work with me directly to set up an account for what they want to buy.

What market will you go to next?

Denver, this Spring. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s when you put your product in the hands of the consumers that don’t get paid to use your product, the results are brutal. When you are doing online grocery shopping, customers don’t owe you anything.

You use to go to the store with your Mom or Dad, it was the one activity you were exposed to as a child that had a hunting instinct – it’s not the same as the website. I have been buying most everything online exclusively since 1996, so my kids don’t get going to the market – they don’t know the pulse of the market because they don’t go there.

Do you think brick and mortar will ultimately vanish?

I personally don’t want to see the day when there are no stores on the streets. However, those stores have to become more niche-y and interesting. I want the artisans to stay on the streets and maximize their potential online.

But hasn’t tech really changed the way we do things?

Yes, but when you place an order with Artizone it is the Artisans that handle the order personally. It is a different transaction – there are no warehouse pickers. The people who put your product together are the very same people who would be doing so if you walked into their shop.

What do the Artisans have to say about Artizone?

I think the Artisans appreciate that we are responsive and invested in them. Our brand is all about that. Everything they need, they get. We open the door for them to have more.

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Meat Picks | 2.21.14

Bearded Chicago

The semi-finalists for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards were announced this week. Whittled down fromjames-beard-award-2011-media-2 over 38,000 national entries, being named as a semi-finalist is indeed a big deal, and Chicago is well represented.

Congratulations to all who made the cut and a special shout out to our Chi-town nominees! Here’s the Windy City recap:

Best New Restaurant: Nico Osteria and Brindille

Outstanding Restaurant: Spiaggia

Outstanding Chef: Carrie Nahabedian, Naha

Outstanding Restaurateur: Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality Group: Blackbird, Avec, The Publican, The Violet Hour, Nico Osterio and Big Star

Outstanding Service: Topolobampo

Outstanding Wine Program: Sepia

Rising Start Chef of the Year: Jimmy Banos Jr., Purple Pig, Matthew Kirkley, L20 and David Posey, Blackbird

Best Chef – Great Lakes: Dave Beran, Next, Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo, Fat Rice, Curtis Duffy, Grace, Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Phillip Foss, EL Ideas, Ryan McCaskey, Acadia, Iliana Regan, Elizabeth, Jason Vincent, Nightwood, Paul Virant, Vie Restaurant, Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria, Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

Find the complete Best Chef’s list by region at this link; read the full press release here.

GoodFoodFestGood Food Volunteer

The Good Food Festival will mark its 10th anniversary next month on March 13-15. Festival organizers are looking for volunteers NOW. If you’d like to help out and drink in the atmosphere of good food and local inspiration, click on this link for more info.

Last Minute Picks

Tap the Keg with former Blackhawk, Adrian Aucoin, at Hofbrauhaus tonight at 7:30! (Great way to celebrate the Olympic US hockey teams!)

Sample seafood, local produmercatce and Spanish wines in a “Boqueria” atmosphere at Mercat a la Planxa’s newly renovated Barcelona Room this Saturday at 7 pm. ($45 per ticket. RSVP required: 312-765-0524)

Looking to get a little exercise? Walk the Chicago Golf Show at the Stephens Convention Center this weekend in Rosemont (Jeff Sluman & Robbie Gould will be there on Saturday), or the IKC Dog Show at McCormick Place.

Have a great weekend!

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Meat Picks | 3.8.13

Beat Bust

One of the most trying things about a content driven society is keeping clarity. Such is the case in a recent Bloomberg post entitled, “Cattle Disappearing Amid Drought Signals”.

There’s no denying the fact the cattle industry has been challenged by drought and low cattle supply for over two years now, yet use per capita consumption of beef has declined keeping prices in check.

The sky isn’t falling yet. Consider several other facts: 1) commodity beef is being produced today with less cattle and 2) there are other protein choices in the marketplace.

Domestic and export consumer demand will ultimately dictate the impact the drought has on the price of beef.

Meat is Good Food

Red Meat Market is one of the local sponsors at this year’s Good Food Festival scheduled at the UIC Forum beginning March 14th. The annual festival, which takes the concept of “localicious” to a whole new level, is dedicated to promoting good food to schools, industry and families.

Buedel’s own Master Butcher, Peter Heflin, will be on hand at Red Meat’s booth on Friday, March 15th at 2 p.m. and then on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. to teach festival goers how to cut, trim and tie tenderloins and roasts. Purchase admission and event tickets here.

Social Savvy Sale

When Tuesday’s snow storm struck the city, Carnivale quickly crafted a deal for the “blizzard special”. Using their social media newsfeeds, the restaurant offered to pay the cab fare [restrictions applied] for patrons willing to brave the storm to come in for dinner that night.

Most commonly used for live events (think, Oscars, Idol, etc.) and to navigate customer service requests/complaints, real time social media marketing is a hot topic. Current schools of thought suggest adding it to your social tool box as one strategy among many.

Chicago Chef Week 

Chicago Chef Week, not to be confused with Restaurant Week which ran last month, will begin on Sunday March, 17th and run through the 22nd. (According to the Chicagoist, there are some establishments who only participate in Chef Week.)

Three and four course lunch and dinner deals are being offered at over 70 restaurants in the city. You can find the complete list of restaurants online and make reservations at Open Table.


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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