COLUMBIA, Mo. – The recipe for Kim Lanes’ salsa has been in her family for five generations, but it’s only been on the shelves of mid-Missouri grocery stores since 2011.

The salsa was originally made to be a condiment at the Lanes’ family dinner table. Lanes said that her family would make it every year and seal it in Coke bottles to be used later as homemade ketchup and chili sauce. The salsa originally was served with cornbread, black-eyed peas and pork chops. But when the “salsa craze” started in the 80s, Lanes began serving it at tailgate parties as salsa. According to Lanes, it was the reaction she got from the people at the parties that got her thinking of selling the salsa. “People just really encouraged me to bottle it,” Lanes said.

She began doing research to look into what it would take to bottle and sell the salsa. Lanes took night classes on entrepreneurship at the Small Business and Technical Development Center at MU and prayed on her decision to help her move toward her final choice. After setting a goal for herself to have the salsa on the shelf by August 1, 2011, Lanes’ mother gave her the seed money to start her business venture. “My mom was really excited for me to go into business and make their dream come true of actually bottling [the salsa],” Lanes said.

Lanes began selling the salsa in C&S Grocery in Harrisburg, Mo. in August 2011. After getting on the shelves at C&S, Lanes moved on to the shelves at Hy-Vee. Lanes found that the stores she approached were receptive to her new product and excited that the salsa was locally made. Lanes travelled on weekends to different stores with her salsa and met with grocery managers to get her salsa on the shelves. After diligently working, Lanes was able to get her salsa on the shelves of Moser’s and Schnuck’s stores in Columbia and Ashland, Mo., as well as the Hy-Vee and C&S stores.

In November 2012, Lanes added a new product to her business, Bloody Mary mix. The original mix that Lanes made was a by-product of her chunky salsa, due to the amount of juice that had to be taken out to achieve the right consistency. Lanes launched the mix at the King’s Daughters Festival in Columbia, Mo, and had sold out of her original batch within the first day of the expo. “I had people placing orders for it and I didn’t know how I was going to make it again,” Lanes said. After seeing the reaction of people to the mix, Lanes decided to make the mix as a continuous product without relying on the chunky salsa.

Along with owning 5 Gen Salsa, Lanes works as an office manager at Coyote Hill, a professional foster care home for children. Balancing the two jobs keeps her busy. Not only does she work during the week with Coyote Hill, but on weekends she also attends expos and festivals as a way to expand her consumer base.

Lanes plans to continue running 5 Gen Salsa and to maintain the increase in her distributions. She intends to establish a relationship with a major distributor.

5 Gen Salsa can be found in C&S Grocery in Harrisburg, Mo as well as Hy-Vee, Moser’s, and Schnuck’s grocery stores in Columbia, Ashland and Jefferson City. 5 Gen Salsa can also be ordered online at www.5gensalsa.com.

 

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