|Posted by Lilly on April 6, 2012 at 12:20 AM|
Photo Credit: Via Veneto Italian Ice
I'm fortunate in that I live in Pennsylvania, and Italian Ice manufacturers are all around me. It's made my search a little easier. I don't have to ask or pay for samples to be shipped to me; I can simply get in my car and make a drive over to the production facility. On my latest adventure I visited Via Veneto's plant in Norristown, PA.
Perhaps my favorite part of going there was personally meeting the man I'd spoken to on the phone, Jim. He was a personable man, chock full of business information... how to get started, how much to serve, what scoops to use, what kind of cart to look for, a custom cart company, event info. and much more, even ideas about commissaries.
I left that day feeling refocused. But I also left with a bag of samples. I got classic lemon, mango, cherry and strawberry. I tasted the product at home, taking care to savor each and not allow the flavors to combine. I'm really very concerned about selling the best product I can find. Later in the day, when my kids returned from school, I sat them down for their professional opinions. Lemon had a good flavor, but just a tad sweeter than what authentic ice should taste like. Cherry, too, was a bit sweet and also very bright in color... perhaps a bit too bright. Mango was the best one of the lot, and strawberry seemed sweet and gooey. I read that one Italian Ice vendor found strawberry to be of similar consistency, so she sold it instead as "strawberry bubblicious" to great success! It appears you can sell anything if it's marketed right. I will have to remember that. So our combined opinion, sadly, put Via Veneto at the bottom of the list of suppliers. It's not bad at all, but it's just not the real product I'm searching for.
However, while I probably won't sell Via Veneto in my lineup, the ease of acquiring it, since the distributor is so close to me, makes it a darn good solution if I should ever find myself out of product and need to secure some in a hurry. It's always smart to make sure that, in addition to your regular supplier, you find an emergency source for those times when delivery is delayed or you sell out of product faster than you thought you would. Always have a Plan B.
I also love the 4-gallon square containers that Via Veneto's product is in. They are perfectly sized and shaped. They would sit nicely in a cart, with no wasted space or shifting. And most wholesalers sell in smaller 2.5 or 3-gallon containers. So, the larger size means I could stay at a location selling for longer periods and more money earned, definitely a bonus.
Via Veneto also has some flavors that are two ices swirled together in one tub. I like this concept. Flavors such as Orange/Vanilla Swirl and Tie Dye would make great feature flavors and be a hit with the kids. One final positive note is that Via Veneto states that, if I have an interest in a flavor that's not listed in their menu, they may consider creating it (with a minimum order, of course). I love anything custom! And if I can use that service to differentiate my ices from other vendors, well, that's an ace in my pocket.
As for my search for wholesale Italian Ice supplier, I'm a bit disenchanted, and I realize my pickiness is going to make it harder than I thought to find a product I can be proud to sell. And so, again I say, the search continues...