Barefoot Contessa

BarefootBarefoot Contessa, alias Ina Garten, has made quite a business for herself in the Hamptons.  Very impressive actually. 

I believe she began as a caterer for local dinner parties, etc.  People loved her food.  She opened up a storefront on Main Street in East Hampton.  Great location.  Then she took it one more level and published a bunch of cookbooks.  The food network picked her up and she was cooking on TV.  Then she did something that I was impressed by.  She shut down her store. 

It impressed me because it was good business sense.  She had twice as much square footage as she needed. My guess is the majority of people were buying coffee and sweets.  The prepared food in the back cases were sold but you could tell that they weren’t turning quick enough so sometimes the taste wasn’t that great.  It is tough to make a profit in the prepared food section if the food isn’t turning.  Also, you end up devaluing your product if it doesn’t taste like it should for $29.99 a lb.  The back of the store wasn’t being utilized efficiently so she closed it.  Smart move. 

Her cookbooks are really good.  Simple food, simple recipes.  They all work and for the most part all taste good.  I have 3 of them that I keep at the beach.  A definite worthwhile purchase.  You can’t go wrong with any of them. 

I was in Sag Harbor last week and walked into the small grocery store that supplies the area for some bread.  The market could use some serious cleaning but that isn’t what this post is about.  When we went to the counter to pay I noticed an entire rack of products made by Barefoot Contessa.  Jarred lemon curd, balsamic mustard rubs, brownie mix, coffee cake mix.  The brownie mix went for $7.99.  Not the price of Betty Crocker but probably higher end ingredients.  Just add some eggs, oils and bake.  So smart.  What a clever never move for Ina.  You can buy all these "pantry" items on her website.   

As most celebrity chefs end up staying the course, she made a bold move.  She closed shop and put her energies into expanding her brand (herself) without a store front.  I have never seen the products before but I would bet that they will be coming soon to an upscale store near your home. 

Nice move for the Barefoot Contessa.  She is the Martha Stewart of the Hamptons.  I happen to prefer Ina’s approach.