We are back into the swing of Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase season. Our Minot show was fantastic and this is the first show I have ever done that we didn’t put in any late nights preparing. That means I have some pretty awesome elves in the kitchen!
Naturally, PoD season also means time for the rain to come just before the snow, so the roads become slick! Happens every year!
Pride of Dakota is a division of the North Dakota Dept. of Agriculture which was designed more than 25 years ago to help small businesses across the state market to the public both locally and internationally. The fantastic staff organizes everything from seminars on social media to exporting tours to China!
As far as I am concerned, the value of the program is the opportunity to network with other businesses who are experiencing (or have experienced) the same growing pains and have similar business questions as I have. I have learned so much from the jewelry makers, jam and jelly producers, Santa Claus carvers, candle makers and popcorn purveyors over the years! The ‘family aspect’ of this group is comforting and educational.
But the ‘family’ isn’t just about the other PoD members and staff. The term certainly extends to the loyal customers we have gleaned over the 20 some years we have been part of this organization. It was the customers who brought me back to the baking business after an eight year hiatus. It is the customers who make it worth travelling 350 miles over snow-packed roads to unpack our display stuff (again and again) and stock the shelves, pass out samples and stand for hours with a smile on my face. And it is because of those familiar faces that the smile on my face isn’t just pasted there, it is the real thing!
It is the sweet lady who called me at home last weekend and when I answered the phone she said, “oh, no, you aren’t at the show!” I had skipped the show in Grand Forks for the first time in years to do our catering events last weekend. She wasn’t going to get her Sandbakkels, her fattigmand, her Molasses Spice Cookies. Yep, I felt guilty!
It is the woman who always orders several dozen Pecan Shortbread and several pounds of caramels. I assumed for years that she bought them as gifts. Two years ago I found out she does. She let it slip that the $200 she spends each year gets broken down and shipped off to our servicemen overseas. Last year she had to cancel the order so she could deal with her own cancer situation. But she’s back on board this year!
And it is the customer who says she has this really good recipe that she will share. It turns out to be amazing.
Yep, I am privileged to be a part of the Pride of Dakota family!