In the wake of strong response to its inaugural pitch event for innovative local product creators, Southern California-based Gelson’s has decided to hold a second this year, broadening its scope and categories. “Gelson’s Local Discoveries,” a platform to pitch new and promising products to be sold in all 27 Gelson’s stores across Southern California, will take place at the Gelson’s distribution center in Santa Fe Springs on Sept. 10.
Limited pitch spots are available, with 70 for center store, as well as 15 for fresh, including newly added produce and floral categories and purveyors of meat.
The event is open to local vendors within 50 miles of a Gelson’s store, spanning L.A., Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Bernardino counties. Contenders will each be given 25 minutes to pitch products to senior Gelson’s buyers between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Applicants should be prepared to explain what distinguishes the product, including any attributes like organic, gluten free or vegan. In addition to helping selected products reach consumers through shelf space, Gelson’s will also actively promote the winners in store, online and via local media. To apply, click here.
The first “Gelson’s Local Discoveries” took place June 6. Among other products, Gelson’s chose three salsas from Santa Barbara-based family business Casa de Comer. The company’s all-natural salsa marries the authentic flavors of Mexico with the open-flame cooking style of California’s Central Coast. Of their participation in the June 6 event, company principal Silvia Franco Comer said, “We came in feeling nervous and excited to introduce our salsas and walked away feeling like we were just ‘discovered!’ …a slingshot opportunity for a small family business that started out of the kitchen.” Casa de Comer debuted in Gelson’s on Aug. 12.
Over the years Gelson’s has been helped launch many other local brands, including BJ’s Brewhouse Beer, Califia Farms, Chica’s Chips, Coolhaus Ice Cream, Groundwork Coffee and Health-Ade Kombucha. Its commitment to new and unique products is one reason that, among 96 grocery brands across the country, Consumer Reports ranked Gelson’s No. 4 in the entire U.S. and No. 1 in the West.
“The response was so encouraging that we decided to make this a twice-annual event, and will likely hold them in the spring and fall next year,” says John Bagan, chief merchandising officer for Gelson’s. “We look forward to meeting new entrepreneurs and are excited to be introduced to some terrific local discoveries to surprise and delight our customers.”