In late January, Kay Conley sent an SOS to customers. With sales down 20 percent at Savory Moment, her prepared-meal company in Redmond, she was on the verge of closing.
In late January, Kay Conley sent an SOS to customers.
With sales down 20 percent at Savory Moment, her prepared-meal company in Redmond, she was on the verge of closing.
She decided to e-mail customers first, telling them about her efforts at cost-cutting and business-building, and asking them to buy more meals and spread the word.
“There’s so much devastating news for people right now,” Conley said. “They might come in and spend $50, but they’re not as willing to spend $150 to $200 as they were before.”
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About a third of Conley’s $800,000 in annual sales comes from people walking into Savory Moment’s store at 18005 N.E. 68th St., Suite A-115, in Redmond. The rest are delivered to customers’ homes and offices.
After the e-mail call for help, Conley’s business picked up, and she plans to launch a line of gluten-free meals next month to attract more customers.
“If we get through these next couple of months, I think we’ll be fine,” she said.
Conley started Savory Moment, formerly Month of Meals, a decade ago in the kitchen of her Kirkland church.
Over the years, she has put about $500,000 into the business and now has a commercial kitchen and five full-time and five part-time employees.
At first, customers had to commit to at least 24 meals a month. Then the minimum dropped to 12 a month, and a few months ago Conley eliminated it altogether.
In a financial pinch, it’s hard not knowing how many orders are coming, but the flexibility keeps customers happy, she said. She offers a 10 percent discount for early orders.
The average Savory Moment entree costs $6.95 a serving. Side dishes average $2, and desserts average $3.95.
To Diane Rzegocki, the price is worth putting some of her family’s favorite meals on the table in Lake Forest Park while she does clinical social work for schools in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. She orders the meals online once a month.
“If I was home, I might have cut back a little, but I’m not,” Rzegocki said.
Swedish meatballs are a hit with her family, and each month her son fills a freezer chest with meatloaf, macaroni and cheese and Asian flank steak to take back to the University of Montana, where he is a student.
“All his friends wait for him to come back, because I make sure he has one big dish to share,” she said. “They go online and say, ‘Ask your mom if she can get that.’ “
— Melissa Allison
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Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or email@example.com.