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Posted: February 19, 2017

Thriving local business gets Dragon’s attention

A thriving Cranbrook business captured the attention and financial weight of a Dragon’s Den investor earlier this year.

Brenda Palmer, owner of Mrs. Palmer’s Pantry Inc., had to hold in a sweet secret for about nine months after appearing on CBC’s Dragon’s Den in May 2016.

During the episode, Palmer made a deal with Dragon Jim Treliving, agreeing to trade 51% of her business for $500,000.

However, the deal is still in limbo and nothing is for certain, Palmer told e-KNOW, adding it was difficult keeping the results of the Dragon’s Den episode quiet for so long (so as not to spoil the show, which aired well after being filmed)

She said she is still meeting with “Jim’s group” and also considering other offers and her product is enjoying expanded distribution into Ontario, with Wal-mart and Costco potential sites for sales of her pita chips.

Within 500 km of Cranbrook, her product is sold in such locales as Freson Brothers and Sunterra Market, through Saskatchewan and Alberta and at regional grocery and convenience stores. In total, the pita snacks are sold in 900 stores in Canada, including recent adds Safeway and Sobeys.

Palmer said despite all the deals that are made on the Dragon’s Den, “we were told about 10% actually go through.”

However, exposure on the show and interest after it aired has Palmer stocked about the future and she enjoyed the experience on Dragon’s Den.

“It was pretty exciting, surreal and fun; it was great,” she said.

Palmer’s story is outlined on the company website: “Having suddenly found herself a single Mom, Mrs. Palmer needed a way to support her children.

“Pursuing her love for cooking, Mrs. Palmer took to the kitchen, where she created a wonderful new recipe for a home-style Antipasto.

“Every evening, while her children slept, Mrs. Palmer would stay up late, working into the wee hours in her kitchen, making and jarring her special Antipasto and on the weekends she would sell her creations at local farmer’s markets.

CBC’s Dragon’s Den. Jim Treliving is pictured to the left, in the purple socks. CBC Image

“So good was her recipe, Canadian Airlines soon discovered Mrs. Palmer’s sensational Antipasto. They asked her if she would create miniature, jarred versions with crackers, for their passengers. At first Mrs. Palmer bundled the jars with generic, store bought crackers but unhappy with their quality, she headed to the kitchen once more, determined to create the perfect, all-natural cracker snacks!

“It took a little experimenting, but before long Mrs. Palmer emerged from her kitchen with a delicious, novel new type of cracker; a puffy, light-as-air snack that tasted as good as it looked! In fact, the snacks were so delicious, Mrs. Palmer decided to package them and sell them on their own! And so Mrs. Palmer’s Pita Snacks were born!”

Palmer is an example of what can be achieved in business from a small city in the Canadian Rockies.

“Brenda Palmer is an astute businesswoman who has never lost sight of her goals. I am surprised that they are dwelling on 21 years in business when her kitchen really did not move into serious business model until about 2003. I first met her at a Cranbrook Chamber function on 2006. She has a wonderful product that she is passionate about. In fact she was at our Cranbrook Safeway today passing out samples. Every person loved her product. I look forward to seeing Brenda prosper,” stated Sioban Staplin on the Dragon’s Den website.

There are currently four flavours of Mrs. Palmer’s pita chips available: cinnamon (which this writer describes as “bloody amazing”); Parmesan & garlic; sea salt & vinegar; and smokey barbecue.

For more on Mrs. Palmer’s Pantry, go HERE or check out her Facebook page.

Lead image: Brenda Palmer gives the Dragons a taste of her long-standing pita chip business. Photos submitted


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