Why "Thank You for Your Business!" is not pre-printed on our receipts

Posted on November 16, 2016 by Scott Eirinberg

Well hello again. It's been some time since I last posted. I started feeling a little guilty about it this morning, so I thought I'd take some time to explain what we've been doing with our time. 

We spend the majority of it making sure we're offering the freshest, most aromatic spices. On a daily basis, I am communicating with my partner on the ground in India, Divakar. It takes a lot of time to plan our orders so that we can maintain maximum freshness.

The other part of our time is spent offering a better customer service experience. I sign each and every invoice. It's to let you know that I appreciate your business. It's to let you know that I'm here if you have any issues. And it's to show off my beautiful handwriting. (That was a joke.)

Let's just say that  there's a reason "Thank you for your business!" was not pre-printed on our receipts. That's meaningless. Don't say it, show it.

We often ship twice a day in order to get your orders out the door as quickly as possible. Okay, we ain't Amazon. We don't have Prime Shipping. But we purposely keep our shipping prices low and move things out the door quickly.

Some say I'm old school. (Though my kids just say I'm old.)

I believe that if you offer amazing products and take care of your customers, people will return and spread the word like my son spreading Tellicherry Pepper and Icelandic Sea Salt on his spaghetti carbonara.

Sure, I could write more posts. I could do more social media. I could add more products for the holidays. But at this point, that would take away from what makes The Reluctant Trading Experiment special. 

Sorry, I have to go now. We have some orders to get out the door. Really.

5 Reasons We Sell the Best Black Pepper on the Planet

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Scott Eirinberg

Okay, admittedly, I haven't tried every brand of black pepper on earth. But I have tried quite a few. In fact, the reason I started Reluctant Trading was because ours won a blind taste test against the biggest brands in the country. You can read the story here. But there are actual reasons that I believe top chefs in restaurants and at home are paying a few cents more to use Reluctant Trading Tellicherry Peppercorns.

1. We buy directly from my exclusive partner in India, Mr. Divakar. There are no middlemen.

We only buy what we need. We never stockpile pepper or buy through distributors. That means our peppercorns don't sit around in hot, musty warehouses waiting to see daylight. So our pepper is literally as fresh as it can be. I personally visit Divakar and the farmers to ensure that we are always buying the best we can find. Check out my photos

2. Mr. Divakar cherry picks (Tellicherry picks) the best pepper from multiple farms, not just one.

Mr. Divakar literally travels from farm to farm selecting the most aromatic peppercorns he can locate in southern India. Since we are not exclusive with a single farm, we are able to select the cream of the crop. While loyalty to any one particular farmer is a nice story, we reward the farmers who grow the most beautiful, aromatic peppercorns. And yes, there is a difference. A huge difference. Until I started Reluctant Trading, I thought pepper was pepper.

The world's best black pepper plantations in Wayanad India

3. We buy the best black pepper variety available: Tellicherry Peppercorns. 

Not only do we buy Tellicherry Peppercorns, we buy the largest Tellicherry peppercorns available. While 4.25mm constitutes Tellicherry, we only buy 4.75mm size and above. Special Extra Bold is the technical name. These are the largest and the most aromatic. Read this blog post to understand the difference between Regular Malabar Black Pepper vs. Tellicherry Peppercorns. 

4. We only buy our black pepper from the most famous pepper growing region in the world, Wayanad, India.

The state of Kerala in India is famous for its pepper. The growing conditions and altitude are ideal for growing peppercorns. Europeans have been importing pepper from this region since Roman times.

My partner, Mr. Divakar looking for pepper in India

5. Top chefs from James Beard award-winning restaurants buy our pepper.

We sell our pepper regularly to several nationally recognized restaurants and chefs in Chicago and Portland. They literally booted their regular boring black pepper and replaced it with our Tellicherry Peppercorns.

6. Bonus Reason. I had no interest in pepper. I was reluctant. Then I tasted this pepper and suddenly found myself in the spice business.

I had no interest in going into the spice business. It was not my lifelong dream. Then my friend, Mr. Divakar, sent me some of his Tellicherry Peppercorns. The rest is Reluctant history.

Buy Reluctant Trading's Tellicherry Peppercorns

 Reluctant Trading Best Black Pepper



Grow Your Company More Slowly Said Nobody Ever

Posted on June 11, 2015 by Scott Eirinberg

The message I get from the business world is that you have to move fast. You want to be first to market. You have to get there before your competition. You have to scale quickly.

Vasco de Gama

When I think about scaling quickly, I think about weighing my peppercorns at a quicker pace. 

Oh, I know, there's definitely some truth that growing a company fast is a successful strategy. Companies first to market often win market share because they get head starts. The problem is, moving fast usually doesn't work well for customers. Compromises have to be made. Hey look, Comcast is growing at a healthy clip, but I doubt their customers would agree that they should move faster.

I definitely wasn't first to the spice market. Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus had a jump start on me. And they weren't first either.

I was fortunate enough to be able to start The Reluctant Trading Experiment without investors. The only people I report to are my customers. If you like what I offer, you buy. If you don't, you skip it. There's nobody telling me to go faster or slower. It's my choice to go slowly. It just doesn't make sense any other way.

I started Reluctant Trading with a single item: Tellicherry Peppercorns. I never planned on starting a spice business. But the floral, citrus aroma of the wrinkled, shriveled black beauties drew me in. Peppercorns? I know, that's a pretty odd business choice after running a successful children's furnishings company for 14 years. Let's just say I like challenges.

Did I think peppercorns alone would be enough to sustain a business? To tell you the truth, I had no idea. But in hindsight, starting a company with an item that is consumed in small quantities and reordered once a year was not exactly my Howard Schultz moment. Peppercorns do not sell like coffee beans. Or hot cakes for that matter.

But the peppercorns spoke to me. And I answered. I knew that the exceptional quality of this spice would be the standard for all other items going forward. I just wasn't sure if I could honestly find more spices that would be as good. One of the reasons I called my company an "Experiment" was in case I needed an out. What if I couldn't find anything else as extraordinary?

My partner Divakar and his staff in Kerala, India

Plus, did I really want to carry 100 spices just like everyone else? Spices are a commodity product, aren't they? You just want to buy the cheapest you can find, right? Head on over to the big box store and buy a gallon jug of peppercorns that will last years for just a few bucks! That's what I thought. And I think most people think this way. There was no reason to think otherwise, until, of course, I had my pepper epiphany a couple of years ago. (See the reenactment in this video that we made that went viral.)

I've discovered that the big spice companies buy huge volumes and let their inventories sit in warehouses for years. I've seen small artisan spice companies buy their supplies from distributors who buy huge quantities that sit in warehouses for years.

Seems like everybody is moving too fast, working with a business strategy of having the biggest selection at the lowest prices, taste be damned.

I think everybody in the spice business forgot about the customer experience.

But were there really spices out there that were as jaw dropping as the Tellicherry Peppercorns and Icelandic Sea Salt that I had found? I've spent the last couple of years looking into it. 

I've been working with my close friend in India, Divakar, to find more of that epiphany stuff. We have no distributor. No large warehouses. No investors. Just the two of us looking around India for the special stuff.

I am the tortoise. Goo goo g'joob.

We buy directly from the farmers. Divakar does most of the legwork, traveling around to the farms. We make decisions with our noses, not our wallets. We only look for the freshest, most aromatic spices in the best growing regions of India. We look for small farms where they care for their workers, the land and their crops.

I'm excited to say that during the last few months, I've had several more epiphany moments.

Of course, I can only move so fast. Even if the tortoise carbo loads before the race, there are still limits to what he can do. After all, the tortoise is still a tortoise. 

I've been taking my new spices to top chefs in Chicago and Portland. I've been getting second and third opinions. I wanted to make sure I wasn't just drinking my own pepper laced kool-aid. One by one, I have watched the chefs have their own epiphany moments. I'm confident now that I have something special to share.

There won't be tons of new stuff. Just a handful of things. Selected slowly. Sign up for the Reluctant Newsletter and I'll let you know as soon as the new spices hit the site.


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