The following is now posted on my refrigerator, reminding me to listen only to those opinions I solicit and to tune out the rest of the chatter. I hope The Gelato Fiasco doesn’t mind my sharing this story. You can visit them at www.gelatofiasco.com.
Building The Gelato Fiasco From Scratch
Sure, selling frozen desserts year-round in Maine may sound a little crazy. After all, it is snowing as I write this, and today, like every day, our store will be open for 12 hours. But when we set out to find financing for our authentic gelato company two years ago, we knew that we had a great product. Most gelato in the United States is made from dry mixes – and the taste of these products pales in comparison to gelato made from scratch using Italian methods. Our market research indicated that we found a community that would be supportive.
After obtaining more than $250,000 in bank loans, we were ready to start construction of our store. We had one last meeting – a request for a loan from a local small business development authority. The small request was intended to help with just a few initial expenses. We fit the criteria perfectly.
During the first minutes of our meeting, the committee seemed receptive. But our fate changed when a committee member showed up late. He thought he knew everything (except, apparently, the time).
He had all the answers.
He thought people would take the word “fiasco” in our name literally, and he suggested we tie customers’ tongues with a new name: “A Taste of Italy in Your Hometown.” He didn’t like our late night-hours, even though Brunswick is a college town with students who study late. Perhaps most troubling, he told us to change the focus of the business. Gelato could never stand on its own, and we should focus on panini sandwiches. In addition to making our servers say “ciao” to customers, we should hang sausages and meats in the windows.
We chuckled and politely said “no.” (Perhaps we should have said “ciao” to him!) He had convinced the rest of the committee that he had the answers. No loan.
Two years later, sales consistently rise each month. We’ve established a loyal customer base, and we add wholesale purchasers of our products each week. We credit our success to the quality of our gelato and the values of our company. Customers like our playful image – folks always ask what “The Gelato Fiasco” means – and they make good use of our late-night hours. We make do in the Maine winters by admitting the irony of selling desserts in the snow – all season, customers receive discounts based on the temperature outside. The colder it gets, the more they save.
In short, our company is all about serving an exceptionally great product and doing it well. No matter what – or who – tries to get in our way.