Black entrepreneur gets things popping with Whole Foods and Costco stores
By D. Kevin McNeir Contributing Writer
(Special to The Washington Informer)
Popcorn has become one of America’s favorite snack foods.
And with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, one local businesswoman said she’s finally “popping her way to success.”
“We moved 756 units which equates to 2,500 bags of air-popped popcorn in a four-day period while participating in the Costco Roadshow in Maryland last week and naturally we’re pleased with the public’s response to our product,” said Dr. Renette Dallas, a practicing, traditional naturopath who founded Life by Dallas Popcorn in November 1999 and lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.
“The Roadshow provides businesses with an opportunity to showcase their products through customer demonstrations. Costco can’t buy our entire line so they let customers’ sales help them decide which two they will stock on their shelves. We exceeded their goal; our item sold a whopping five times the desired amount. It’s been a bit exhausting but I’m very happy,” said Dallas, a native Washingtonian whose popcorn has already become a favorite item for shoppers at Whole Foods Market in Silver Spring, as well as other nearby locations.
Life by Dallas Popcorn can currently be purchased at various Whole Food Market outlets in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia. But soon, Costco will offer several of the five flavors of air-popped popcorn to their members as a line item for all of their 80 Northeast Region stores.
The product comes in five flavors: Garlic Overdose; Italy in a Bag; ATS – All That Spice; Ecstasy; and the newest addition, Just Plain Good.
One grocer who works in Whole Food’s P Street location in Northwest said the popcorn has become quite popular.
“It not only tastes good but it has healthy ingredients, too. We order eight cases twice a week and carry four of her five flavors. It’s a real hit with our customers,” said Rashid Ramadhan, 41, who has worked at Whole Food Market for 10 years.
Dallas said she saw a niche and went after it.
“Who doesn’t like popcorn? Ours is different than most because it’s air-popped with nutritional yeast which gives the taste of cheese and with organic olive oil that offers the taste of butter but is dairy free, and gluten free.
“I believe in letting your food be your medicine and your medicine being your food,” she added.
“Dallas has a really good-tasting, high-quality product with nutritional attributes,” said Rachel Moyer, a 14-year employee with Costco who purchases snacks and candy for their stores in the Greater Washington Area.
“Popcorn is a hot item right now and hers is outstanding,” said Moyer. “Our members trust our choice of products. Dallas is very much a part of the D.C. community and we look for ways to help members of the community build their businesses. We’re excited for Dallas and really believe that she’ll find success in our buildings,” said Moyer, who works in the company’s Sterling, Virginia office.
Dallas said she’s proud to introduce her product to Costco’s members.
“It’s hard to be a small business owner and get your product on the shelves at Costco,” she said. But it’s even harder when yours is a black-owned company. For me, this is a real David and Goliath story. In the end, the size of the business doesn’t matter – it’s the quality of the product.”
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