Four Questions for Travis Droogsma, Wedge Refrigerated Grocery Buyer

Q: What brought you to the Wedge?
Back in 2009, I moved back to Minneapolis after a year in New York City. When I returned to the Wedge, I noticed that I was still seeing the same
faces around the co-op that I’d seen for years. I realized that working at The Wedge would not only allow me to spend more time in one of my favorite places in Minneapolis, but it would also reciprocate my commitment to the co-op. Eight years later, I’m happy to say that devoting my energy to the Grocery department has allowed me to build relationships with co-workers, bosses, farmers, and vendors and grow into my role as Dairy Buyer.

Q: What do you love about working in the Grocery department?
The most rewarding part of my job is the opportunity to spend time on the floor speaking with customers about the dairy world. Many of our products come from local vendors, so being on the floor allows me to tell their story. Each vendor and farmer has their own reasons for being in the natural food business, and oftentimes a simple note about their products doesn’t do their story justice. An important part of my role as the dairy buyer is passing those stories along to the people who support their work.

Q: What new and seasonal items should our customers look forward to this winter?
Off the top of my head I know GT’s Kombucha is just about ready to roll out their new seasonal variety. The folks over at Spoon Optional have been re-formulating their soups and should be back on our shelves before the snow melts. Angelica’s Garden is always jarring up something new (and rumor has it their Sriracha sauce should be ready to go soon).

Q: What is something owners might not know about the Refrigerated Grocery department?
We frequently meet with farmers and producers who are new to brick-and-mortar retail to help them navigate the challenges. Foxy Falafel, for example, had only existed in their food truck and restaurant, but we were able to work out a retail plan that worked for all of us. We’ve also operated as a testing ground for Prohibition Kombucha, Deane’s Kombucha, Punk Rawk Labs, Maazah Chutney, Pepper Girl Salsa, Kiss My Cabbage and many others as they were growing beyond the farmers market and into year-round operations. Often their success in our coolers will lead to a larger relationship with Co-op Partners Warehouse (CPW), which allows them to grow their business and keep the local food economy humming.

Travis’ favorite new products: 

LOCAL GRLK Sauce in Original, Chipotle and Basil
LOCAL Baba’s Hummus in Original and Red Pepper
LOCAL Freak Flag Foods Organic Sauces in Kale Pesto, Original Red Sauce and Original Green Sauce
LOCAL Dabre Ginger Juice
LOCAL La Reyna Queso Dip and Salsa
Health-Ade Kombucha 64oz. Growlers in Apple, Ginger Lemon and Pomegranate

Read Cultivate Winter 2018 articles

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