A Farewell letter | NEW OWNER | 2024
It was the winter of 2015, I was a recent Gonzaga graduate working at a running store while building what would be the first rendition of Pantry Fuel's website in the back room between fitting customers. This was where I found myself after turning an executive assistant job down with Tony Robbins. Was I young and dumb? Probably. But as I like to say, I was eager to serve and make a difference in my community and there was no better time to start a business...
Many things inspired me to start a small business. It wasn't just my maternal grandfather, one of Spokane's largest builders in the 70s, who taught me the importance of frugality and building relationships. It wasn't just my paternal grandfather who founded what is now known as Aramark Refreshments, Spokane's corporate coffee company. He and my dad taught us how many mini creamers my brothers and I were capable of chugging in one sitting...and the importance of filling a need in the market. Nor was it just my aunt and uncle, the founders and owners of Maryhill Winery, who inspired my loyalty to good employees - and how to fire fast when necessary to support the business' values. It wasn't only my first entrepreneurship class at GU, one I find myself teaching today, with a professor named Dr. Todd Finkle who inspired me to create positive change by solving problems. And it wasn’t just my parents, who both had entrepreneurial spirits, though my dad did inspire my commitment to change and growth. I found inspiration in all these people. But the idea for Pantry Fuel ultimately came at age 24 just after my tutu (my grandma from Hawaii) passed away from Pancreatic cancer and we experienced and saw a need in our community for convenient, healthy whole food meals.
90% of startup businesses fail. This is a cold stat I talk a lot about with our Gonzaga students. There has to be a group of special people who believe in and commit to supporting a small business to make it work through the changes and ups and downs. I think it was my virtual 'business guru' and seldom pen pal, Derek Sivers, who is quoted saying, "it's better to have 100 people who love you versus 1000 people who like you". I remember about five years ago when I was playing a role in all positions at Pantry Fuel and I delivered to a sweet woman (who we still deliver to today). One week I asked her how long she had lived in Spokane. I came to learn her husband had just passed and the meals were just for her, but made a big difference in her newly widowed life. The next week I delivered again, always ringing the doorbell and waiting to hand her the bag of meals as requested. This time she was moving a little more shakily and with a cane - “M.S.” she said in a soft-spoken voice. I knew the full meaning of a healthy meal this day and I knew the capacity at which Pantry Fuel had the opportunity to serve.
Over the past eight years, I've shed countless tears for stories of people I've never met: families who have lost loved ones, new exhausted parents, a daughter ordering for her mom going through Cancer treatment, retirees, empty-nesters, and professionals like you and I just trying to get through our day while trying to eat the colors of the rainbow. I've heard so many stories and yet, they all benefited from the same love a healthy meal can provide. This is why Pantry Fuel exists. You are why Pantry Fuel exists.
It's with deep gratitude and a tinge of sadness to announce I'm no longer the owner of Pantry Fuel. As we welcomed our second child on December 23rd, I handed off my first "baby" to a new owner. It was always my goal for Pantry Fuel to go to someone who would be just as passionate about serving our Spokane community as I am. This person has an even greater capacity to grow it and make it even better. Maisa, Co-founder and Executive Director of Feast Kitchen will continue the legacy of Pantry Fuel while adding her global touch and expanding the menu with many distinct offerings.
In our economy where small businesses are shutting down left and right, it's only with your patience, support, and compassion that will get us through. I ask you, now, to offer her your patience, support, and compassion and to know for every ounce of these you give to Maisa and Pantry Fuel, it'll only triple the impact she and Pantry Fuel can have on our beloved Spokane community!
As I pass the baton to a new owner, I give my deepest gratitude to each of you for supporting my dream and ambition for the past eight years. Please always remember this: Your dollars are a vote for the kind of world you wish to live in. Every purchase we make says a lot about what we truly value. Thank you for valuing Pantry Fuel and this dream to serve Spokane, making our community stronger one meal at a time!
Spread the word and let's 'cheers' to and support Maisa on her new venture!
With love & intention, always,
Jenny (and your Pantry Fuel Team)
“Problems are the gifts that make us dig out and figure out who we are, what we're made for, and what we're responsible to give back to life.”