In a whirlwind of 24 hours last week, Jenni Trilik and Marcus Contaldo were completely overwhelmed with support from the owners of $216,000 in debt and nearly 30,000 unsold coffee bags.
It was an unexpected happy ending to a long-running small business nightmare that began in April. Then, in a nine-year long-term expansion, Modesto fell short of a deal that was supposed to put his coffee products on the shelves of Walmart’s virtual stores. Old West Chicago Company.
With £9,300 of coffee and debt piling up, Mr and Mrs Aurora wrote about the experience on the store’s blog on Thursday morning, offering caffeine lovers one deal. Those who didn’t drink coffee but still wanted to help could donate the bags to charity instead.
By Friday afternoon they were sold out.
“This huge burden has been lifted. Of course it’s financial, but it’s also been emotional, seeing that people care about the little man,” Contaldo said.
It was far from how they envisioned things returning in April. After spending a year selecting brokers, Rucker Marketing, and his nationwide distributors and registering as a vendor, Modest Coffee received an offer to sell the coffee on his Walmart website. I was.
They figured they would need to make 6,000 bags of coffee. That’s about as much as Modest Coffee produces in his three months. It is shipped to the distributor’s warehouse. Modesto Coffee pays for your order upon delivery to any Walmart fulfillment center nationwide.
Trilik and Contaldo enthusiastically agreed to a retail partnership. Their hope was to employ more people, especially refugees, and double production. When distributor requests started rolling in in June, they took him two weeks to complete each shipment.
According to Contaldo, various distribution centers began placing orders, each with an order of 8,000 bags, quickly exceeding the expected output.
“Six thousand was a lot for us, but we could handle it,” said Contaldo.
They scrambled to contact the broker and quickly identified the problem. The original order he had was 6,000 units. For distributors, this meant six-bag coffee cases instead of individual bags. Structured. Modest Coffee purchased approximately 36,000 bags of coffee.
“I was a little apprehensive about getting another order,” says Trilik. “It was a real emotional roller coaster that you never know when it will end.”
Their contract stipulated that payment would only be made once the entire order was completed. Angry at the broker for not questioning how he would produce 18 months’ worth of coffee in a short amount of time, they cut ties with the broker and scrambled to find a way to complete the order. . Throughout Chicagoland he has over 100 cafes, restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores.
They hired more workers. Their three daughters, Contaldo’s father, and friends came to help roast the coffee. They worked his two shifts, with Contaldo leaving Modest Coffee two years earlier for a sales job before returning full-time to Modest Coffee. They barely slept, hoping that the relentless double-shifting would finally pay off.
“We worked 21 hours a day for six weeks,” says Trilik.
Neither the broker nor the KeHE distributor responded to multiple requests for comment from Thursday through Wednesday.
By the end of July, Modest Coffee shipped the entire order to the distributor’s warehouse. Thousands of his bags of coffee were pitted before Walmart started selling them within weeks.
But weeks turned into months, and at the end of October, Trilik and Contaldo suffered a second and worse blow. Misunderstandings between his Walmart and distributors about the number of warehouses stocking coffee meant they had grossly overestimated the size of the coffee. order. Instead of shipping to 75 distribution centers, no more than 10 were handling coffee, according to an email from a KeHE account manager provided to Tribune.
I had two options. Either send the extra coffee back to Modesto Coffee or donate it for tax deductions, or Modesto Coffee will be left with his $216,000 credit card debt, bills and loans from friends, family, and the bank, 34,000. I am making a bag for
“All the credit cards we had were maxed out,” Contaldo said. “There was no way to fill the (ordered) coffee any more.”
They turned to the internet for help, documenting distribution disasters and asking supporters to buy cases of coffee to pay off their debts.
“It was hard putting this out there and leaving myself vulnerable,” says Trilik. “There is a certain amount of self-blame and guilt, especially since there is so much shame hidden in debt.”
Within minutes of publishing the blog post, coffee orders began pouring in, so my initial suspicions were put to rest.
According to Trilik, Modest Coffee makes $1,000 in sales per minute.
“There was a period of about 10 minutes with no orders. After three hours of this, I was like, ‘I’m doing well and I’m very grateful for what I’ve got,'” Trilik said. . “Then (orders) just kept going up all day.”
According to Contaldo, this was just a temporary issue as the website froze while processing so many orders.
“It came from family and friends, into our community here in Aurora, and then continued to spread outward,” Contaldo said. “Before we knew it, we were inundated with orders from all over the country.”
The $7,300 raised by Trilik’s sister’s GoFundMe translates into about 130 cases of coffee for local food pantries and shelters. Trilik said her remaining 24,000 bags of decaf coffee sold out quickly, but about 1,800 bags of decaf coffee were still available as of Wednesday morning.
After learning hard lessons, Trilik and Contaldo said they hoped to continue working on national distribution, while keeping a keen eye on volume and communication issues.
“I want to explain that we went from the worst situation and scenario to the best situation and scenario in 24 hours,” Contaldo said.
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