One anecdote about a former tenant of hers really hits home regarding how different her business is from their business.
A tenant with a meal kit company wanted to automate filling a container with a few ounces of sauce, so Albrecht says they bought a giant machine to squeeze sauce into cups. It came in on a big pallet, and it was a huge operation to assemble. Albrecht says they were really excited about this machine.
But when they finally got it hooked up, it didn’t work as expected. She can’t help laughing while she tells the story. “When the sauce comes out of this machine and lands into the little saucer cup it doesn’t land ‘pretty’ enough. So they just stopped using it. They just left it there.” The giant machine sat hulking on a pallet, unused, for months.
Albrecht says she she quickly realized her tenants weren’t trying to build a sustainable business like her. They were swinging for the moon.
“I try to grow little by little,” Albrecht says, “and luckily I have never lost money. My business is profitable. I can pay myself. I can pay my employees. I can pay all the bills to my suppliers on time.”
An Uneasy Partnership
At the start of this year, Albrecht and her workers were turning 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of piles of napa cabbage into kimchi every day. She had finally grown the business to the point where she didn’t need to rent space or sell her product to a food tech company. Albrecht she was happy to be done with them. But then the pandemic hit.
While Albrecht’s sales have declined, delivery apps are flush with business. She has found herself working again with a company called Local Crate. Before the pandemic, she says the company was super late paying her for the products she sold them.
“It was not a lot of money, but it made me really upset,” Albrecht says. “I don’t know why they run the business like this.”
Albrecht didn’t want to work with them anymore. But now with the pandemic, she welcomes any business she can get. She also convinced the company to pay her up front. She’s happy for any sales right now. Although, she looks forward to the day she can get back to selling her kimchi directly to grocery stores and customers.