Bulk Food Superstore
Scoop up the savings….. and the Fireballs.
In the scope of about 15 minutes I overheard, “Oh, look. Fireballs.” I made a mental note to check out all of the excitement before leaving. I had never heard of them.
In fact, there are several items in the brand new Bulk Food Superstore in Sun City Center I had never heard of, and many I had. From candies to chocolates to spices to soup mixes to grains to tea to coffee to baking ingredients to smoothie mixes to infused olive oils to red lentils (a personal fav) to snacks to crackers, they have it all.
Bulk Food Superstore opened in December 2016 in the Home Depot plaza in Sun City Center. They’ve been busy every since.
Bulk Food Store Concept
The idea of a bulk food store is not new. In fact, Bulk Food Superstore owners, Annette and Brian Brama, are Canadian. Canada has a few well-known, nation-wide bulk food chains, so Annette and Brian were familiar with the concept before deciding to open their own.
The general idea is to sell products ‘in bulk’, which is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t have to buy a truckload, quite the opposite. A sign in the Bulk Food Superstore says it all, “Buy a pinch or a pound.”
Imagine. No longer tossing away the jar of Bay Leaves you bought, a year after you purchased it (you only needed one Bay Leaf, not a jar.) At Bulk Food Superstore you can buy one Bay Leaf. Seriously, just one.
Why Florida? Why Bulk Food?
While preparing to return to North America after a two year stint in Germany, the Brama’s began considering business ideas and locations. Both had always been self employed so they were looking for another entrepreneurial opportunity.
They had vacationed in the Tampa/St. Pete area for years and Brian’s mother lives in Sun City Center, so returning to Florida was a no brainer. They settled on the bulk food store idea because they loved the concept in Canada and were frequent shoppers.
Done! Florida and a bulk food store it was. Annette and Brian and their three children bought a house in Bradenton, attracted to its school system, and began searching for a commercial property to locate their store. Sun City Center became the focus of their search after visiting Brian’s mother several times.
“We got lucky,” Annette says. “We moved here in August. Found and secured this location in October, navigated through the permitting process and we opened in December, just before Christmas.”
Annette makes it sound easy, but it was a lot of hard work, late nights and sweat equity. Brian built all of the fixtures in the store while Annette focused on finding distributors, coordinating orders and identifying products to offer. Their children, Torsten, Lydia and Petra, helped, too, painting the barrels which hold the bulk food with the store’s new label.
Bulk Food Superstore is independent, not part of a franchise, and it’s not a health food store (although it does carry some supplements). The display of Easter Peeps by the front door is proof of that.
Annette has been closely watching sales and often orders in items that customers have specifically asked for (bring her a label and she’ll see what she can do). She’s already finding sales trends. No sugar added products are particularly hot. So are baking ingredients and chocolates. The nuts? They can hardly keep them in stock. My personal favorite? The candy aisles (yes, more than one).
“The folks in Sun City Center really have it going on,” Annette says. “They’re buying all different kinds of flour for baking and making their own granola.”
For sure, the store has a few items you may have never heard of, but somebody has. They’re buying a lot of it. Take for example the Pink Himalayan Salt. I’d never heard of it, but after a bit of research I understand it’s pretty incredible stuff. It’s also pink (which is hinted at in its name- giggle).
The great thing is you can try just a little bit of something. Not sure how those muffins will turn out with gluten free flour? Buy just enough to make a batch and see for yourself. No harm no foul if it isn’t great.
Mix and match. The candy aisles (I know I keep mentioning the candy) are infinite. I’m like a kid in a candy story. (Ouch, I know. Bad pun.) Need to pull together an Easter Basket or need a variety for a party? Bulk Food Store’s your place.
Want to create your own granola mix? Have at it. I’m bad at math, but I am sure there are infinite ways to mix and match ingredients to make your custom granola at the Bulk Food Superstore, too.
So go ahead, try it. You might like it and, if not, you don’t have to feel guilty about tossing the rest of the package.
They carry over 370 products, including pet products, soaps and more. You’re bound to find a ton of items you adore. It’s important to note, too, they source locally as much as possible and try to buy organic products as much as possible. Win-win!
Education and Snacking
There is a tiny, tiny learning curve if you’ve never shopped at a bulk food store before, but it takes about a nano-second to master. Here’s the entire lesson:
There are always a minimum of two staff members in the store to answer any questions.
Ever get caught with your hand in the cookie jar? It happens, but the Bulk Superstore staff prefer you ask before you snack. They’re more than happy to give you a bite of something to try, so no need to sneak a morsel or two into your mouth and pretend you aren’t chewing. They know you are.
Annette is trying new food items all of the time. Some ideas come from producers, but many come from the customers themselves. Have you been missing something from back home? Bring Annette a label or picture and she’ll try to get it in if it makes sense.
They’re also now offering gift baskets (pre-made) and hope to offer a make-your-own-basket section soon. Space is the challenge right now.
Holidays? They got you covered. While they missed most of the 2016 Christmas season because they had just opened, they have an entire section devoted to Easter. Lindt chocolates, milk chocolates, dark chocolates, white chocolates and Peeps. Just kidding. Well, they do have all of those chocolates, but tons of other treats that are perfect for an Easter basket or just a candy bowl in your house. No holiday required.
Hiring! Yes, they’re busy and getting busier every day. They are hiring. Stop in the store for an application, or contact Annette Brama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813-938-1605.
Annette and Brian are also considering a second location. The Sun City Center store has been so well received. No details yet, but we’ll bring them to you when we have them.
Incredible Addition to South Shore
What can I say? The Bulk Food Superstore is a great addition to our area. I promise, you need to check it out. Heck, make a day of it. Do your errands at Home Depot, stop in Old Castle for a little German lunch (und Bier) and then hit the Bulk Food Superstore and pick up something new to try.
Back to the fireballs… In the heat of the moment, interviewing Annette for this story and checking out all of the goodies (impossible to see it all in one visit), I completely forget to see what the Fireball excitement was all about. Time for me to go back….
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9AM – 7PM; Sunday, 9AM – 5PM