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  • Writer's pictureAngela Rakis

For the Up & Comer

What Foxtrot's closing means.

For the Up & Comer. Image of Angela Rakis.

This month, we straddle a few things relevant to independent businesses: the intersection of Foxtrot closing its stores and the Fancy Food Show (June 23-24). And money, of course. It’s way more complicated than I could ever cover here, so I focused on three main areas. I built my career in retail and product launches, so I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. Here are my thoughts about the recent headlines.

Included are some articles on the topic and some of the women-owned brands that Foxtrot carried so you can find them and support them.

Dude, where’s my job?

Let me start by saying, I was an early supporter of Foxtrot. I loved the idea of the upscale corner store. The store wasn't too big and yet carried interesting products. The employees seemed knowledgeable and if they didn’t know something they wanted to find out for you.

It happens. Everyone reading this has probably lost a job - had the rug pulled out from under them. But this one felt especially harsh. To come to work and learn THAT DAY that you’re not getting paid and there isn’t a job anymore is simply no way to treat people.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes: your team is your greatest asset. If you treat your team as disposable, stop it. Here is an article from my friend and colleague, Errol Schweizer. He speaks to a former Foxtrot employee to understand the impact of this situation. In working with my clients, we talk a lot about having a team and how important they are to our overall success.

I got into Foxtrot! (or Whole Foods or Target...)

At the start, Foxtrot had an “Up & Comers” wall featuring emerging, smaller brands. It was one of my favorite things about the store - the discovery. What happens to those emerging brands? The small companies that built their growth around Foxtrot - the ones with inventory and unpaid invoices? They, too, got blindsided. They will also go unpaid.

A silver lining here was seeing Thrive Market opening up their RangeMe portal to these businesses to try to help sell-through their products. This is putting people first.

The work doesn’t stop when we get into retail, it's where it starts. This is the point where the reality of the dream coming true hits us in the face. Hard. I’ve worked with several clients who had one goal and that’s to get into their ideal retailer. My job is to help build the strategy around this and to ensure that they are not consumed with a single-minded focus.

Having a super clear strategy that includes your financial needs is critical. The money doesn’t start rolling in once you get into that dream retailer, it starts vanishing quickly.


Speaking of money and investments, Foxtrot got some ($193M). Was it mismanaged or do the investors have unrealistic quests for return? Here is where the Fancy Food Show comes in. It’s another place where the small vendors are fighting to be seen. It’s a place where large brands can pay for giant, interactive booths.

From my experience, both on the retailer side and working with clients, some buyers take the time to seek out these smaller brands and help them along the winding path. Others love finding trendy, interesting products and once they have them in the store, the vendors are left to navigate alone. Is supporting ‘up-and-comers’ part of the strategy, or is it something to check off the list? We know investors want a return - how fast do you want it and at whose expense? Who is worthy of being cast aside when the return isn’t there?

I have worked with large and small brands - each has a unique set of challenges. Being clear on strategy, clear on your expectations, and taking giant risks is part of the process.

Below is a roundup of some of the best articles I read on this topic. It’s worth studying what happened and moving forward with a strategy that works for you.

Also included are links to some of the brands that were in Foxtrot that you may want to check out!

And now this...

After writing this post, we learned that Foxtrot's founder has secured an investor to acquire the company's assets. How convenient... I am not adding links to those articles below because this CEO is exactly what I'm talking about above. He is disingenuous and is trying to play the part of "I didn't know." He may not have had the title of CEO but he knew. I'll go a step further and say that if this was a woman or person of color, they would be the pariah in the business community and would need to battle for funding. Any vendors that go back, get everything in writing, get paid upon order, and protect yourself first. Same for employees that want to go back.

More Reading & Listening

"While Foxtrot currently carries 100 women-owned brands—a total of 450 SKUs—the c-store has a goal of increasing the number of female-founded brands on its shelves by 50% this year. Foxtrot is aiming to drive a larger narrative on the responsibility of the industry to uplift women, especially because female-founded and co-founded startups have a higher success rate according to research cited by the retailer."

  • Listen to the founder of Soom - the most amazing tahini ever - on The Niche podcast. Their journey is a great case study for CPG brands


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