Mail order and brownies? Who would have thought? Eileen Joy Spitalny and partner David Kravetz did, and as the founders and owners of Fairytale Brownies, they gained big success selling brownies in the mail. It’s a classic rags to riches business.
By the end of 1993 both of them quit their day jobs. She had been selling television time and Kravetz, with a mechanical engineering degree from Stanford, was at Procter & Gamble. In 1994, Fairytale Brownies became a full-time effort.
They borrowed from the bank, invested personal savings and made the quantum leap. Even though Spitalny had concentrated on entrepreneurship classes at the University of Southern California, she found the real world a bit different from the classroom. There were a few “bumps” in the road, but they persevered. Today they have a “tasteful” and successful mail-order company selling freshly made brownies nationwide.
You can order a “Fairytale Brownie Year” with a 12-month package or order them by the dozen or the six dozen gift crate. Fairytale coffee mugs, T-shirts, baseball caps and aprons are also available. You can order gift certificates as well.
Brownie orders can be enhanced with Fairytale coffee, cocoa or tea. If unique packaging is desired, a keepsake wooden box, special wrapping or both are available.
There are 11 basic flavors of Fairytale Brownies, including Mint Chocolate, Raspberry Swirl, Toffee Crunch, Walnut and Espresso. During the holiday season you can order Candy Cane Brownies. You can mix or match in almost any combination desired.
Quality is an issue at Fairytale. A quote from the catalog reads:
“We take pride in baking our 39-year-old family recipe from scratch. We use only the purest, highest quality, all-natural ingredients. Made from imported Belgian chocolate, pure cane sugar, real creamery butter and farmfresh eggs, Fairytale Brownies are preservative-free and certified kosher.”
The aroma of baking brownies can be enjoyed by visiting the Fairytale Brownie bakery at the corner of 69th and Thomas in Scottsdale, AZ. Free samples are offered without asking and orders can be placed on the spot.
Orders can also be placed by telephone or fax. A five percent discount is given to those who order from the Web site (http://www.brownies.com). The size of the order does not matter.
All of these different methods of ordering are offered because Fairytale Brownies is in the mail-order business. They will take your order any way that works for you and will ship your order anywhere you want it to go.
You can also pay almost any way you want. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, money-order, check or cash are accepted. Billing can be arranged for major corporate orders.
Spitalny and Kravetz work hard to expand the local business. “The Valley of the Sun” (Greater Phoenix) is a winter holiday destination for tens of thousands from across the United States and Canada. By being visible locally they are really visible in many more communities.
Special events such as the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, the spring and fall versions of the Festival of the Arts and the Farmer’s Markets each find them on site selling and finding new customers.
Spitalny, being the marketing and sales director, works almost anywhere there are people. I first met her at a Phoenix Direct Marketing Club event where she was giving away brownies. In fact, every time I see her, she is giving away brownies! Her satchel is full of interesting and tasteful delights.
Yet, mail-order is a mainstay for repeat orders. It works, too! Once you get a taste of a Fairytale Brownie, you will be back for more.
The catalog grows and changes as they learn what works and what does not. Larger orders, mostly from businesses, are more common today, with volume discounts beginning with a $500 order. Earlier catalogs did not include the volume order discount option.
They have also enjoyed a tremendous increase in custom keepsake sales. This is another opportunity that was not previously flagged in the catalog.
They do stay in touch. Recently, looking for referrals from out-of-state winter visitors, they sent a simple “thank you” card to the top 100. Each package included a collection of eight brownies and six Fairytale brochures.
The card said, “…As a small token of our appreciation, please enjoy these complimentary brownies. We hope you will share some and pass along a brochure to friends who may be interested…Thanks for being part of our Fairytale!”
Wow, what a grand idea! Workable only because they have a database of customers. They know who purchased what, when and for how much. This is using knowledge about customers to its direct marketing best.
In between the now more frequent catalogs are simple two and three color post cards. Valentine’s Day and Easter, for example, are times when these cards are sent. Each card has a limited time offer appropriate for the season. These follow-up mailings keep customers coming back. I know because I am on the mailing list!
Every catalog carries the following quote: “In the wee hours of the night, the Fairytale Brownie gleams with delight. With his magic spoon in hand, he creates the greatest brownies in all of Fairyland.”
When I asked Spitalny about it, and the Fairytale name, she explained how she and Kravetz wanted a fun name that would be remembered. “My Mom’s Brownies” was tried. They were not happy with it so they did some research.
Looking up “brownies” in the dictionary, they discovered brownies bring happiness and delight. They like a little mystery and to surprise good people with good things. Spitalny and Kravetz felt this was undoubtedly a “fairy tale” – and the name Fairytale Brownies was born.
Spitalny also said they liked the idea of the name because if they worked it right, the “brownies” would come in the night and cook the brownies needed for the next day’s orders. Unfortunately, she reports, this has not yet happened!
What has happened is that they have been recognized across the country for their ultra-chocolaty, moist brownies.
The number one marketing priority for the next 12 months is to level the sales peaks and valleys. This is a tough nut to crack with a product that is so gift and special occasion oriented. To accomplish this Spitalny is targeting corporate accounts since they are usually the ones who give gifts all year.
The second marketing priority is to get the Fairytale product in other high end specialty catalogs. This obviously will increase the reach to those outside the immediate marketplace.
Ongoing plans include looking to the World Wide Web to increase their reach and sales. Today they administer their own site and frequently update it with seasonal sales pages. Interestingly, their site is updated with help from an ex-Fairytale baker. They turned him on to computers so much he quit baking. Now he works as a computer consultant and Web designer. Fairytale is one of his key clients.