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 | 6.13.13

CigarBQue

cigarsThere are still some tickets left for the 2nd annual CigarBQue slated for Friday, June 21st.

CigarBQue raises funds on behalf of the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation who helps impoverished communities where cigars are produced. Created by Executive Chefs (and friends), Rick Gresh,(Primehouse), Giuseppe Tentori, (Boca) and Cleetus Friedman, (Fountainhead), Gresh says they came  up    with the idea to do an event when they couldn’t logofind a good place to “get together to eat, drink and have cigars”. The trio hopes to expand their charitable concept to other cities in the future. See our full interview with Chef Gresh here.

Burger of the Month

PetetheButcherBurgerChicago’s prestigious Saloon Steakhouse honored Buedel Master Butcher, Peter Heflin, this month by creating the Pete the Butcher burger for their monthly promotion. The half pound prime grade burger, which comes topped with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, horseradish and smoked kielbasa, has patrons smacking their lips in total Saloon-style satiable satisfaction. “I am not worthy to be a part of the exploding Chicago burger movement in such an exquisite setting as Saloon Steakhouse,” Heflin reflected. “Thank you, Chef Boris!”

What is Local?

In preparing for the NRA Show last month, we put together some new cheat sheets for defining and buying “local”. Beyond distance, local is really more about: healthier eating, fresher foods, family farmers, environment, humane animal treatment and sustainable agriculture.BuedelLocalLogoTM

Our team also developed a logo to show local support. Please feel free to share and use!

New Addition

LWoodsChineseTakeOut2L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge in Lincolnwood came up with a great idea – adding Chinese take out to their carryout business. Offering appetizers, fried rice and standard entrees such as Mongolian Beef and Kung Pao Chicken, L. Woods definitely delivers the best of everyone’s world. You can of course order online too.

Dads’ Day Out

Did you know that Father’s Day is the third biggest dining out hFathersDauoliday after Mother’s Day and Valentines Day? According to the National Restaurant Association, it is estimated that 50 million Americans will take dad out for a meal this Sunday. Going to “Dad’s favorite” is the leading factor in deciding restaurant choice.

Happy Father’s Day!

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From the desk of John Cecala  Twitter@BuedelFineMeats Facebook BuedelFanPage

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Hashtag NRA Show

There’s something special about the #NRAShow [National Restaurant Association Show]. Billed as an “international foodservice marketplace”, the NRA Show is big news to a lot of people, perhaps because nearly one in 10 American workers are employed in the restaurant industry – ‘big’, to say the least. More than 60,000 buyers and suppliers are expected to attend the four day event at McCormick Plachydroponic_image_250pxe beginning this Saturday, May 18th.

There will be loads of educational sessions, guest speakers, (Starbuck’s CEO, Howard Schultz, will be doing the keynote), celebrity chefs, and numerous special exhibits such as a “fully functioning hydroponic garden that will grow local, all-natural, pesticide-free produce – on the show floor”. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a water and mineral nutrient solution without soil.

Show Local Supportshowbooth - small

We are equally excited to be an exhibitor at the show again this year. In the meat industry this year’s hottest trends are: gourmet burgers, grass fed beef and local.

The definitions of “local” and “sustainable” are changing rapidly and expanding beyond environmental concerns as the marketplace responds to consumer interest for healthier eating, humane animal treatment and better food quality. ‘Local’ points to these issues and more – food safety, family farmers and sustainable agriculture – to name a few.

BuedelLocalLogoTMOur company is a family owned business and in honor of all local and family owned businesses we are launching a new program in show of support at the NRA Show. (Please feel free to use our local logo to share in the cause!) We’ve also put together a great little cheat sheet on How to Buy Local explaining the basics of what to look for when buying local and sustainable foods. Stop by the Buedel booth at the show for more information, #7864!

Fun Foods

Part of the fun at the NRA Show is of course, the food. The exhibit halls are filled with new products to sample. Here are some of the new items we’ve put on our must see list:

Ditka Hot Beef Polish Sausage – an eight inch long, 1/3 lb. spicy sausage from Vienna Beef tditkasausagehat’s geared to be a “Grabowski” classic.

Upland Cress – just one of several specialty greens from family farmed and  sustainable, Living Water Farms in Strawn, Illinois.

tspwillieTeaspoon Willies Everything Sauce – a gourmet, all natural, organic tomato based sauce to be used as a staple condiment at every meal. (We have to try it, just because of the name!)

Grandpa G’s Jalapeno Butter Mustard – noted as a “relish”, Grandpa G’s has  ProductLarge4981.jpgfresh grated jalapenos mixed in with sugar tangy mustard. 

All Butter Croissant Roll Round – round shaped croissants for sandwiches; great idea!

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

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Trend | Why Local is Hot

Local, Natural, Pasture Raised and Humane are some of the hottest buzz words used these days by the media, chefs, purveyors and consumers. Few discussions about healthy eating, the environment and social responsibility take place without them.

The team at Buedel Fine Meats & Provisions spends a lot of time discussing these trends with customers – local, natural, pasture raised and humane – they are all mutually exclusive topics which overlap. In a recent post, we wrote about What Makes Meat “Natural”?, but what does ‘Local’ mean when it comes to all foods?

Locality vs. Reality

Speaking in a geographical sense, there is no standard definition of local. Some define local as a food source within 250 miles of your proximity. Others say a local food source is within a day’s drive away, and yet other schools of thought say it depends on the types of food and that local can also be “regional” – like blueberries from Michigan to Chicago. This can get confusing, to say the least.

The whole notion of “local”, when it comes to food, in reality is more about healthy eating, supporting family farmers, sustainable agriculture, humane animal treatment, care for the environment, and fresher food, than it is about the exact distance from a food source to your door.

Historical Look

Part of the post World War II economic boom in our country was within agriculture. There was money to be made by feeding the masses with livestock and seed farmed commodities both domestically and overseas.

Large companies such as Cargill were out to feed the world and industrial farming grew at the expense of the independent family farmer. By the 1960’s the rural economy began struggling and many independents were losing their farms.

“The American farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything he buys at retail, sells everything he sells at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” – John F. Kennedy

The use of newly developed chemical pesticides, growth hormones and genetic modification science proliferated to increase yields and speed time to market and profit grew over time. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) were developed to bring more livestock to market faster in order to, quite literally, feed the demands for food and financial profits for commodities traders and industrial farming companies.

The by-products of these industrialized farming methods were water and air pollution. Inorganic fertilizers deteriorate soil, toxic ground water runoff affects rivers and lakes, increases in green-house gasses affect air quality and ozone.

Many of these issues are regulated much better today than they had been in the past, but still exist.

How Local Re-Evolved

In the mid 1980’s forward thinking food retailers like Whole Foods and Wild Oats Market began to emerge touting natural foods which were “better for you” and the environment.

Farmer’s Markets in urban areas soon began to grow in popularity where small farmers brought their harvest into urban communities for direct purchase by the consumer. Their food was produced naturally; it was fresher, better tasting, and healthier for consumers. The urban platform also provided an income for small farmers.

Today’s Local

Better food retailers have steadily increased consumer awareness of the benefits of natural foods and demand for them across the board.  Many consumers today are willing to pay higher prices for these foods because of the health and socioeconomic benefits attached to them.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot in 2012 Survey, the top two hottest restaurant trends are: 1) Locally sourced meats and seafood. 2) Locally grown produce.

Why?

More of today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from and how healthy it is. Chefs and Restaurateurs want to meet the increasing demand for fresher and natural foods while supporting their local communities.

The locally sourced movement creates a symbiotic relationship between farmers, businesses and consumers, while helping the local economy and environment with transparency into the way the food was produced.

Local farmers that raise their crops without harmful toxins and practice livestock-pasture/seed-crop rotation each year are sustaining the environment. They have a market for their harvest with local buyers such as retailers, chef and restaurateurs.

Local retailers, chefs and restaurateurs get transparency from the local farmers into how these foods have been farmed. They purchase them for their freshness and healthfulness for the betterment of their local business thus helping the local Farmer and offering more to their customers.

Local consumers seeking the benefits of healthier, environmentally friendly food patronize these local retailers and restaurants helping the local businesses. It is through this continuing cycle of economics and demand where everyone benefits.

This is Local when it comes to food: Healthy Eating, Supporting Family Farmers, Sustainable Agriculture, Care for the Environment, Fresher food.

Local is Near and Far

Depending on where you live it may not be possible or desirable to have locally farmed foods. You may not find or desire locally farmed blueberries in Nebraska as much as you would in Michigan, nor seek or want locally farmed beef in Michigan as much as you would in Nebraska. However, in both cases you can support Family Farms and the ecosystem of local farming even though they may not be physically “local” to your own proximity.

For example, Niman Ranch, a cooperative of over 750 family farmers across the country, requires their family farmers to raise livestock without hormones or antibiotics using humane and sustainable farming practices. In return, Niman Ranch guarantees to purchase 100% of their herds allowing these small family farmers to maintain a living and preserve their farms for future generations.

Educated buyers understand the importance of local based alliances such as Niman. They get that while you may not be able to buy local lobster in Illinois, you can choose to purchase seafood from a purveyor who works with family fisheries.

By supporting “local” food producers we can enhance the social, economic and environmental interrelationships of a community. And that’s stellar.

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

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