Dayton's Fronana expands to Columbus grocery stores (Dayton Business Journal)
Here's some exciting news for Dayton's original frozen banana cream maker Bobby Walker! This article, written by Kaitlin Schroeder, was first published in the Dayton Business Journal on February 12, 2016. You can read the original here.
Dayton-based Fronana is now on grocery shelves in Columbus.
Since moving into the 27 W. 1st St. storefront through the Pop Up Project, the business has taken off. Two months ago, Fronana started selling at Dorothy Lane Market, and the owner said he has plans to rapidly spread to other markets.
Owner Bobby Walker, or "chief banana peeler" as he dubbed himself, said he delivered Fronana for the first time last week to six Columbus grocery stores: Lucky's Market, Weiland's Market, Huffman's Market, The Hills Market, The Hills Market Downtown and Bexley Natural Market.
In the Dayton area, Fronana is also now at Dot's Market in Kettering and Bellbrook and Whole Health For The Whole Family in Troy.
"My plan is to grow as fast as possible," he said.
So far, he said his expansion into grocery stores has been met with success. At Dorothy Lane Market, he said in 30 days he sold 100 cases, with six pints in each case.
"We're pumping out 50 cases a week. We're selling it as fast as we make it," he said.
His goal is to sell at least 10 cases a month at each store.
Scaling has its challenges, said Walker. Calls will need to be made on what upgrades and investments are worth it to match higher levels of production.
They've switched from hand labeling each pint to pre-printed containers. He's looking at getting a freezer truck and a bigger ice cream maker for the First Street store, where the product is made.
"We have about three or four people now, and as we grow we'll be bringing more people on," he said.
To help build his brand in other markets, Walker also plans to launch an online store in about a month.
"As we break into new markets, the challenge is educating people about who we are. The best way to get our foot in the door is to make it available so people can buy it online and then I can take that information to the groceries in those markets."
The expensive cost of shipping a frozen dessert is what held Walker back from online sales in the past. With dry ice and the box, even before shipping, the cost is maybe $20 an order.
But now, Walker said he is going to just take the risk.
"It's been the bane of my existence for this past year," he said. "I'm tired of waiting an missing out on opportunities, even if we have to eat a lot of the costs while we grow through it."
To build hype for the online store, Walker said he is holding a drawing from people who sign up on the company's website, with a winner each month this year getting shipped a free case. He expects the new site to be online by the end of the month.