Martin Butts was burned out after seven years working long hours in the cramped and bustling aisles of the Syracuse Cooperative Market.
He was passionate about working with small scale and local food producers, but unsure about how to continue that work when he left. A chance encounter with a vendor from his time at the co-op in 2009 flipped a light switch and in a matter of days, Small Potatoes went live.
The next five years saw him wear out two set of tires pitching artisan food products like Better Brittle and Recess Coffee in every independent grocery store between Buffalo, NY, Northampton, MA, Scranton, PA , and Burlington, VT. Along the way he got a crash course in manufacturing and production, distribution, branding, communications, marketing, patience, event planning, and hustle.
After a move to a beach-side community just north of Daytona Beach, FL (that had little appetite for local food) he pivoted to what had been the smallest piece of his business, workshops and speaking engagements. His first workshop about starting a food business elicited an invite to give two more at the New York Small Business Development Center state conference. That turned into two workshops at the SBDC’s national conference.
In the years since, Martin Butts has engaged and inspired thousands of business owners and business development counselors through keynote presentations and workshops in 15 states. Every new community in turn offering fresh flavors and insights into the ever changing local food landscape.
To celebrate Small Potatoes’ 10th year, Butts will be partnering with the Onondaga Small Business Development Center to present a workshop and event series about starting and growing a food business. The SBDC is a resource for new business startups, succession planning, and business expansion. SBDC provides one-on-one business counseling, budget development, and workshops that help entrepreneurs – and food businesses – plan for growth in a smart and sustainable way.
Read articles and advice written by our very own Onondaga SBDC Business Advisors!