As my book Berried in Chocolate says, the heart of any business is the product you offer. I want my heart in the best condition it can be, so the products I offer are the best I can make them. It has always been that way since I started in business – my strawberries were the freshest, the firmest, the most perfect size; and the chocolate I dipped them in – by hand –was rich and delicious and the best texture I could find. It wasn’t only the products that were the best, either. My obsession with quality covered the packaging, the shipping, the merchandising, the advertising, and … well you get the idea.
Offering a high quality product or service means that you care about your customers. They are the reason you are in business – to make them feel special. Yes, I like to make money, and I deserve the money I make from my excellent products – but money is not the highest priority for me. I don’t think it should be for anyone.
In my book I wrote: “One of the philosophies of my business is that people do business with people. Customers want to know there’s a real person behind a catalog or website. A “real Shari” behind my brand is another form of quality assurance.”
This is why it kills me that products sold under the brand I worked so hard to build – Shari’s Berries (SB) – are not up to my quality standards. People assume these berries are from me! They are NOT. I no longer have anything to do with SB, who was bought by Provide Commerce.
Provide Commerce advertises that their strawberries are fresh hand-dipped berries in a premium chocolate coating shipped overnight in a beautiful classy gift box. Well, that used to be true when I ran the company, it’s what I insisted on, but now no longer is. Now what customers receive is hulled berries (no green tops) that are machine dipped into an inferior waxy coating and most sent out second-day, not overnight!
I’ve read online customer feedback comments about this new SB, some of them complete with photos that would make you sick! It breaks my heart. “Look at this mess!” one says. “Ruined my Easter experience!” says another. “I received unripe berries – completely white,” from another. “Mushy, with brown spots of rot and smelled of formaldehyde,” yet another. “Hey! Where’s the top of my berry?” and on and on.
I’m writing this because I want my customers who have purchased sub-par berries from SB to know that although they have my name on them, they are not from me. I don’t work that way.
When my new products are available, you can be sure they will be high quality in every way. They will be the best, from the Real Shari.
I found the below picture online. It's how SB's are being received today. Nothing like the hand dipped berries that are pictured on their website.