Why Small Businesses Matter in Bridgeport: Rose Sisters Chips


Why Small Businesses Matter

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Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!

You're IT Rose Sisters Chips!

Four questions with Jonathan Marcus, founder of Rose Sisters Chips.

Why did you start your business?

At the end of 2018, my 80-something-year-old Mom (Ann - the older of the Rose Sisters) came out of retirement to help create Rose Sisters Chips which is based on her mother's (my Grandmother) 100+-year-old, life-changing recipe from the Old Country (gourmet, seasoned, baked flour tortilla chips). For our entire lives, we have shared our chips at meals and parties to the delight of all who tried them. For just as long, people INSISTED that we start selling them (which we appreciated but respectfully declined. After all, everyone is nice when things are free, right?)

It took 40 years or so of hearing that for us to finally go for it. We launched with great excitement (and nervousness) without having any background in food manufacturing, retail selling, or knowing that a world pandemic was just around the corner. Despite the challenges, we managed to grow. Today, we have our production facility in Bridgeport and hired local staff to help the local community in any way we could.

We are a Woman Owned Small Business, FDA registered and Connecticut Health Department approved. We have been sold in nearly 2,000 locations across the US so far and have pretty aggressive plans for the coming year. It's been an incredibly exciting path so far and the family has never been so energized about something - particularly being able to pay homage to the original "Rose."

What is your best-selling product/service?

Our chips are unique in every way.....taste, texture, experience, packaging, and usage. Each of our bags contains 3 full, baked, and seasoned flour tortillas, which you break in the bag to make your own chips/crackers. It's all part of the fun and symbolizes our generations-old family tradition of passing them around the dinner table and breaking off a piece before the meal starts. Most people enjoy munching on them on their own because they are just that tasty. But they do go with everything.....dips, salsa, cheese, charcuterie, tapenade, soups, salads, chili, and everything in between.

We even use them as bread crumbs on chicken, fish, mac-n-cheese, etc. Today we have 2 flavors.....our Original Family Recipe, which was created by my grandmother and is our savory flavor. The other is a Mesquite BBQ with a touch of heat. We created this 2 years ago and it's become really popular. In the end, however, we would never expect to compete against a time-tested, family and friends-approved recipe from my Grandmother.

That will always be our most popular! Truth be told, I've been eating them for more than 45 years and I swear, each time it's like having them for the first time. They are insanely delicious. You can never go wrong with a grandma's recipe!

How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?

Community is important to us. We established our manufacturing facility in Bridgeport to help bolster business in the city. All of our staff live in Bridgeport and all are economically disadvantaged. We created a mini-consortium with other food manufacturers and we share our staff with them to help keep our employees working as close to full-time as possible as well as to help alleviate staffing challenges for those other manufacturers.

We donate our "broken" chips to local food shelters serving Bridgeport families. We purchase services and products from as many Bridgeport and Connecticut suppliers as possible: corrugated boxes from Valley Container in Bridgeport, marketing materials from Spectrum Marketing in Norwalk, and printing services from BlackRock Print Shop in Bridgeport, and Restaurant Depot in Orange for some of our ingredients.

We also proudly donate products to worthy local causes: Meals on Wheels in Guilford, The Foote School in New Haven, and Norma Pfriem Breast Center in Trumbull, Bridgeport, and Fairfield), We will always support local first!

Have you "reimagined" your small business?

Of our 4.5 years of existence, more than half have been during the pandemic. I'm not sure we "reimagined" ourselves but we certainly pivoted a couple of times to get our name out there and keep building momentum in the business. From the start, our focus had been on traditional wholesale distributors.

When everything came to a screeching halt at the beginning of COVID, we sent out a thousand sample packages directly to buyers and boutique store owners across the country to introduce ourselves and our products to set things in motion once the world returned to "normal." That proved very effective for us and we ended up building a very nice online book of business which we maintain today. A short while after, we got our first taste of the direct-to-consumer channel. We partnered with Good Morning America's online assets to run a promotion for their viewers.

It was wild, frantic, and incredibly fun. We sold as many boxes of chips in those few weeks as we had through our website the entire 2.5 years prior. It got us thinking. We've since been on QVC twice and continue to look more seriously at DTC channels going forward. We are also planning to expand our geographic reach to more of the western part of the US and may even tip our toe into international lands to see how it works for us. No rest for the weary!

Visit Rose Sisters Chips online here, and check out their Facebook, and Instagram pages as well!

HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!

Submitted by Bridgeport, CT

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