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The Spice House: Supporting Small Businesses While Staying Tastefully Safe

The Spice House is as much a community as it is an expert spice business. The 60-year-old business has a steady customer base of restaurants, chefs, and foodies, as well as a close-knit network of suppliers (with some so secret, even CEO Charlie Mayer doesn’t know them). 

Mayer calls The Spice House stores “a sensory experience,” saying customers frequently wander in after catching a whiff of fragrant spices. In a socially-distanced world, this foot traffic was cut off – but The Spice House has found innovative ways to maintain its community while lifting up other small businesses affected by COVID-19.

See some of the ways The Spice House has shown resilience during the pandemic: 

  • Staying in Touch
    The Spice House uses digital services to stay connected with its customers, including building online communities for them to share photos and recipes. Thoughtful email marketing, active social media handles and an online option to leave a positive message for staff are some of the ways The Spice House connects with its customers on a human level during a difficult time.
  • Store Pickup
    The Spice House’s three locations in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Evanston, IL offer store pickups as an option for local customers at no charge. Store pickups are available 7 days a week and include proper social distancing measures to keep customers and staff safe.
  • Expanded Delivery
    The business has begun shipping at “unprecedented levels,” with more orders than at any time in the company’s 63-year history. The company also offers expedited shipping for “spice emergencies,” allowing restaurants and chefs with urgent needs to receive fulfillment within 24-hours,
  • Taking Care of Staff
    To manage its increase in demand, The Spice House has hired additional staff to help with an onslaught of orders. To maintain social distancing, the company has staffed a second shift to ensure employees are keeping a safe distance while filling orders. All employees have been given increased pay, issued mandatory facemasks, and given alternate arrangements to avoid public transportation to and from work.
  • Supporting The Small Biz Community
    Apart from keeping its own business running, The Spice House also partners with and highlights other small businesses to help them “collectively get through these challenging times.” Examples include a recent partnership with Peeko Oysters, with 10% of proceeds going toward local healthcare workers and email spotlights of The Young Chefs’ Club, MeatCrafters, and Big Spoon Roasters.

By keeping customers safe and informed while helping other small businesses, The Spice House is setting an example for businesses that are able to stay open. 

Learn more about how The Spice House’s COVID-19 response here

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