Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mom is Santa

This is a public service announcement. I have learned firsthand how quickly kids find "things" that are new to their world in their parent´s nightstand. This video captures that perfectly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November 2007 Roundup

I don't think I have gone so long without writing and for that I apologize. It's not laziness, writer's cramp or apathy. I just have way too much going on right now. So I thought maybe I could sum it up a little bit in this post.

I managed to loose a long time client and then get them back. I have a client with a chain of locations throughout the city that manages to get into cash flow problems around this time of year. We find out on payday when we get a check payable for 90 days (Ouch!). I overreacted and they didn't take it well and we eventually kissed and made up, all in the same month.

I have been flying to Uruguay, Chile and Cordoba to meet with a mixture of new, current and potential clients. This sounds more glamorous than it really is. I get to experience flight delays on every single one of my flights for example. I also get to go to new unexplored cities (unexplored by me) with only enough time to maybe walk 6 blocks before I have to go do something. They stayed mainly unexplored. I get to take lots of pictures of stores and store shelves and get to wait around for meetings. All of this would be enough to drive me to suicide, but since I am doing this for the sake of my business, I have to admit that my curiosity drives me to do that job well.

I joined a political group called Democrats Abroad. For those of you who know me I can just picture your eyebrows going up. I have never been much of a joiner of groups. However, all the shenanigans that have been going on in the name of my country have just gotten me sick and I felt that I had to do something; voting obviously isn't enough. I guess that if I had written a post on this subject the title would have had been "The Devil Made Me Do It". If you would like to read a little bit about this group you can click - here - for Yanqui Mike's posts on the subject and - here - for 99's posts.

I have a new client! Normally I don't mention this until I have a purchase order in my hands but these guys have been so enthusiastic during the whole sales process that only a natural disaster or an act from God can keep them from following through. The chain is Libertad. It is a supermarket chain that is positioned mostly in the north of the country and they were purchased by Casino (French multinational) back in 1998. They also form part of a large group of supermarket chains in Latin America that are owned by Casino. This should help us get into these other countries. As for Argentina we pretty much have the whole country covered with these three clients (Jumbo, La Anonima and Libertad) now I can focus on exporting. You can insert a big sigh of relief from me here.

I have another new client in Blockbuster Video. No, I am not going into the DVD business. Blockbuster is actually hurting big time from the sale of illegal DVD's. They are forced to think out of the box and try something new. Sure you always had that option of buying some snacks from there to go with the movies but now they are going all out gourmet. There first gourmet store was on Callao (& Santa Fe) and from the looks of their purchases the trial must have worked and they are expanding the concept to other stores. Where else can you get the world's best chocolate chip cookies to go with that movie? If you answered your grandmother's house it's time to get off your lazy ass, get a job and limit your PS2 gaming time, unless of course you are 14 years old.

I managed to read some blogs and managed to be impressed by some of them so much that I want to share them with you:

Taos finds out one of the things that Argentines are super efficient at doing... and that is killing themselves behind the wheel of an automobile. It's actually very tragic and depressing but he's just presenting the facts people. You can click - here - for that article. However, he also finds out that Argentine women love having sex more than women from other countries. He also found that 97.2% of Argentines are literate. Somebody give that guy some Scooby snacks. He is churning out way too many interesting articles.

Pablo in Rosario also touched on a depressing topic in the state of abortion in Santa Fe (The State in which he lives in). He has also started assigning names to the power outages in his city like how they give names to tropical storms. The latest outage is called Carlos. You gotta love that.

Ian finds out why "one should not fuck with the French". This little episode happened in my neighborhood.

Robert Wright has the skinny on the Recoleta Cemetary.

A Texan in Argentina discovers Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sugar & Spice Gifts 2007

This is an online photo album of the gifts we have this year. Most of them will not be around next year. These gifts have been very popular with companies that buy end of year presents for their employees as well as people stopping by our store.

I am also leaving a slide show on my side-link so that it will be easier to find.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Growing a Forest

The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, 'In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!'
John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

I was just thinking about how growing this business is kind of like growing a forest from scratch. I am still in the process of planting trees and the first few rows are starting to show promise. Meanwhile I have to keep planting while taking care of those promising saplings. But while I am waiting for those small sapling to grow I am going to try planting some bigger more advanced in age trees.

So what are some of those new trees like that are taking up so much of my time?

Jumbo supermarket is a new client of ours. They have our brand in their three top stores. They refer to them as their three P´s; Palermo, Pilar and, uh ...Unicenter. Okay, the word play is supposed to be location, location, location but you know I didn´t think this stuff up. I am just repeating what has been told to me. The pound cakes have been literally flying off the shelves. We actually had stock-outs (sold out) of these products. Everything else has been doing good. I mean it is selling, it´s just not selling out. This is mostly due to them underestimating how the pound cakes were going to perform. This coming weekend we are going to be sampling at the three stores (Thursday at the Palermo store and Sunday at both the Unicenter and Pilar stores -tentatively).

Exporting possibilities: We just finished participating in the first Alimentaria Mercosur Expo at La Rural. The expo was great because they had rounds of meetings set up with supermarket chains from other countries. These meetings were prearranged ahead of time so basically I got a chance to present my products to people that already expressed an interest in seeing them. I had to do my bit of homework and read up on them and their respective countries i.e. Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela. We also had a booth set up so that also took a big chunk out of my day.

Now I am running around and arranging meetings with some of those people. Just this week I have to fly off to Uruguay and Chile. Next week I need to fly to Cordoba as a result of this expo as well. Falabella Chile already has our products in two of their stores: Parque Arauco & La Dehesa. I am going over there to meet some of the people at the stores, hopefully do a little training, and talk about how the sales are doing, and see what we could do to improve those numbers, if they need improving.

And to top this off I am doing all of this during November. Just in case you are not in the baking industry, November and December are absolutely crazy for us. This is Pan Dulce (Panettone) season and we make, what I believe to be, the best Pan Dulce on the planet. When I first came to Argentina I was not a big Pan Dulce person. I started trying out the various Pan Dulce offerings here. I tried just about all of them and I realized that there was one trait that just about all of them shared. They all were made with candied fruit. I hate candied fruit.

We make ours with almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, plump juicy raisins and glacé orange peel. Okay, that last one is actually a candied fruit, but one thing is a candied orange peel and something entirely different is a varied colored piece of fruit that you can´t discern a taste from. Anyway, the nuts and fruits are immersed in cognac and we top the whole thing off with a crunchy almond topping.

Last year Falabella ran out of it with one whole week left until Christmas. This time they are ordering a few more and Jumbo is also going to offer them as well. One little guy getting into the Pan Dulce game for us is LeShop.

Hopefully, one day, I will be able to see the trees for the forest and the forest for the trees.