whole foods

A couple of dozen Humboldt County small businesses are squeeeeeing themselves into a tizzy as we speak.

Why? Because some heavy hitters from Whole Foods are jetting into town Tuesday for a fabulous two-day whirlwind tour of the county’s chocolatiers, brewers, coffee roasters, hot sauceries — specialty foodies of all stripe. And word is that they’re arriving with checkbooks wide open.

“These people are coming to make deals,” says Angie Schwab, coordinator of the county’s Humboldt Made economic project. “They are buyers that can make a huge difference in our businesses’ ability to make a living at work they love.”

Humboldt Made has arranged for a tour bus to shuttle the three VIPs — one from Whole Foods proper, the other two from a distributor the grocery chain works closely with — from event to event all around town, accompanied by local food industry folk. There’ll be wining and dining and product showcases, along with visits to the operations of businesses like Dick Taylor Chocolates, Los Bagels, Rita’s and many more.

Schwab tells the Lost Coast Outpost that the visit was first proposed and arranged by two young local entrepreneurs — Daniel Bixler of Humboldt Hotsauce and Rosa Dixon of Natural Decadence. The county was able to come along and help out with logistics for the visit, leveraging an old $2,500 grant it had received from the Headwaters Fund for just such an occasion. 

So it’s all pins and needles until Tuesday, when the marathon pitch to end all pitches gets fully underway. Whole Foods, it goes without saying, is the white whale of small natty foods manufacturers everywhere. Whoever they smile on next week is going to be hiring next month.

“We don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Schwab said. “What I do expect is for several of these businesses to be able to scale up.”