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|Camp Mix Spices Up Sales|
|Published Thursday, August 16, 2012|
The saying goes that variety is the spice of life, but for Tom Trayer, creator of CAMP MIX seasonings, spice IS life. What started as an easy way to pack seasoning for camping trips has turned into a successful cottage industry and an in-demand brand.
While getting ready for a family vacation in 1982, Trayer threw all his kitchen’s seasonings into one container to save space. By the end of the trip, the blend was a hit and had a name—CAMP MIX.
In 1996, after 14 years of giving the product away for free, he turned his hobby into a business after being downsized from his management job in high tech. “Everyone kept coming back, telling me to make more,” he says. His first stop was NH Specialty Food Association, and he “hit a home run out of the gate,” landing his first deal with L.L. Bean and dozens of small businesses.
Today, the product still has that same mix of spices, but is now sold at more than 1,000 stores in 45 states and has a cult following of self-professed “CAMP MIX groupies.” Trayer now counts among his clients The Meat House, a butcher franchise based in Manchester, and Cracker Barrel, with 615 locations across the country. In addition to those chains, CAMP MIX is also sold in Whole Foods, Manchester-area Hannafords, and Renys, a popular department store chain in Maine, along with small gift shops and farm stands throughout New England. Trayer describes CAMP MIX as a “16-year overnight success story.” When he first started selling the product, he says, sales were $10,000 a year. For the first few years that number crept along steadily. During the past five years, though, sales have doubled annually and are now in the six figures. He also says that business has boomed in the last year due to a quadrupling of retail deals.
He cites word-of-mouth marketing as the biggest reason for CAMP MIX’s serendipitous success. “I had no idea what I was doing when I started, no definite business plan. Some people have great products, but can’t stick with it, because they don’t have that word-of-mouth buzz. We’re proud that we do.” The original CAMP MIX blend is still an all-in-one seasoning mixture of garlic, onion, black pepper, salt, white pepper and celery salt. Trayer has expanded to three other blends, including Spud Fixin’, a Lemon Pepper Blend and the sweeter Honey-Cinnamon mix.
He works out of Londonderry with one employee, making the hundreds of pounds of mix needed to fill demand each week.
While nearly all of his sales were made in-state when he first started, he says half now come from out of state.
For more information, visit www.campmix.com.
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