This is not the first story you’ve likely ever read about Frali Gourmet, Savannah’s home for freshly made pastas and sauces. There’s been quite a bit of ink and air time telling the story of Franco and Lisa Marra (Fra-li) and their pasta shop and café on Liberty Street. In the last year or so, they moved out of the shadows down off of President Street and onto Liberty where they operate a full retail store as well as their production facility and they were a finalist in Martha Stewart’s 2014 American Made online contest. To the casual observer, there has been a decent amount of growth with this small business. And rightly so. There’s not a farmers market in the area they seemingly aren’t a part of and they work long hours, doing as much as they can themselves in order to keep costs down. That’s just part of the deal when you own a small business. Now, Franco and Lisa are trying to take the next step with their business and they are looking for your help to pull it off. The Marra’s have launched a Kickstarter campaign aimed at regional (or perhaps even national) distribution of their products.
If you haven’t heard of them, Kickstarter is basically on-line presentations of ideas for small businesses. Some are obviously smaller than others, but they are ideas none the less. Good ideas? Well, that is up to you and any other visitor to that website. The businesses make their pitch and you are asked to contribute any amount of money you’d like to help that business reach their goal. If they don’t reach the goal, they don’t get any of the money. It’s that simple. Frali Gourmet launched their pitch a few days ago and are looking for funding to get them in the door of major supermarket chains across the South.
I know I’m making a broad generalization here, because really any business can be chaotic but the supermarket business has been described to me as mayhem sometimes. Think about it, products, product placement, volume, number of stores, number of items and needing a place to put all of this stuff. There are any number of items out there that big box stores would like to carry, but can’t because they just don’t have the space. The Marra’s have a proven product but are having a tough go kicking in the door to the next level. “If we had thirty clients doing a lot, we’d be ok”, Lisa says. “But the problem is we have a hundred clients doing a little bit”. Long client list with small orders don’t exactly allow for any traction for significant growth. Their plan to make it happen is pretty fascinating. They’ve redesigned their packaging and have had someone design a “shipper” if you will, that could pop up in a store aisle and be a custom made display for their pastas, sauces and jarred vegetables. It’s a beautiful display, but it’s expensive. I’m told design and production hovers close to $10,000. That’s just to design and make a stand (good work if you can find it, huh?). That doesn’t say anything about empty jars, other packaging, or shipping to these stores. “I’ve had the president of a big box store tell me they’d love to carry our products, please make this happen”, Lisa says. “But the local stores say they just don’t have the space.” This display could change that.
If you haven’t tried their products you should. They are wonderful. If you haven’t stopped in for lunch at their shop on Liberty Street, you should make a point to pop in there as well. They bake their own bread for sandwiches and can offer practically any of their pastas with any of their sauces for a quick Italian lunch. Quick and inexpensive too.
More importantly, take a minute and stop by their website at Fraligourmet.com and take a look at their Kickstarter video to hear their story. Full disclosure, their Kickstarter video was shot, produced, and edited by Eat It and Like It. That’s not why they are here in this space this week. I’m sharing their story because I think it is a great one. Every donation comes with a gift. The details are on the website. It could be a perfect way to grab some pastas or sauces as a holiday gift. If they can string together $18,000 over the next month, there’s no telling really how far this local business can go. And that would be pretty darn cool.
See you on TV.