Corvallis Business: Running Princess to Leave, Squirrel’s Gets Statewide Win, Another 2 Towns Success, OSU’s New Food Marketing Research, Local Business Events Calendar

Success in a Can: Local cidery, 2 Towns has announced their Bad Apple cider will now be available nationally in 12-ounce cans, which makes sense, given that it’s an already proven winner for the Corvallis based company.  

The Bad Apple has medaled at 24 awards shows, and is part of the company’s imperial cider line, which accounts for 40% of the brands sales. Imperial ciders and beers have higher alcohol by volume counts, which in the instance of this 2 Towns bulwark is 10.5%. 

The company sets flavor expectations, describing the apple-y goodness as “Big & Bold,” and then explaining,” The Bad Apple is made in an imperial style, fermented with local meadowfoam honey and aged on Oregon White Oak. Complex notes of apples and wood make this a Northwest favorite.” 

Cheers to a Downtown Favorite: Squirrel’s Tavern scored some statewide kudos from That Oregon Life in a story titled The 41 Best Oregon Mom & Pop Restaurants to Eat At in 2023 

Author Danielle Denham wrote, “Established in 1974, this treasured drinking-hole is a long-time celebrated local business in downtown Corvallis. A favorite of locals, students, and travelers alike, Squirrel’s is funky, fun, and welcoming. Along with the regular burgers and nachos, you’ll find mouthwatering goodies like Canadian-staple Poutine (home-cut fries, smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds). 

Local Store Closing: Running Princess announced late last month they will be closing their Corvallis store, and recent scuttlebutt is they are now discounting inventory up to 70% and selling off store fixtures.  

The store announced their closure in a social media post, writing, “We recently made the difficult decision to close our brick-and-mortar stores in Corvallis & Albany as our owner is retiring to spend more time on her farm. Running Princess will continue to be available for online sales. While we are sad to be closing our storefronts we are thankful for all of your support over the years. To all of our friends, thank you for your support, and encouragement throughout the years. We are very grateful to have made this journey with you.” 

We at The Advocate will miss them. 

Social Accountability Funding: Samaritan Health Services will host an informational meeting for nonprofit organizations, community coalitions and government entities based in Benton, Lincoln or Linn counties, regarding this year’s process to apply for Social Accountability funding. 

The meeting will be offered both virtually and in person on Tuesday, Jan. 24, beginning at 1 p.m. at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, in conference rooms 3 and 4, and via Microsoft Teams. 

The meeting will provide potential applicants information on Samaritan’s Social Accountability funding goals, objectives and priorities for 2023, and an overview of the application process. Anyone interested in applying for funding is encouraged to attend as there are significant changes to the application process from previous years. 

For questions about the meeting, contact JoAnn Miller, director of Community Health Promotion, atjomiller@samhealth.orgor 541-768-7330. To receive the Microsoft Teams meeting link, contact Shelley Hazelton at rhazelton@samhealth.org or 541-768-5256. 

More COVID-19 Impact Funds Available:  Business Oregon, which is the state’s economic development agency, has a new round of COVID-19 impact grants, in this instance, specifically for the smallest of small businesses, including owner-operator outfits. 

Microenterprises whose owner or employees meets low or moderate-income criteria can qualify for between $2,500 and $10,000 in grant funding.  If the business has employees, grants can go as high as $30,000. 

Eligibility requirements also include having been in business since 2019 and documentable COVID-19 impacts. 

The agency has $3 million for this round of grants. Program launch is set for Mon., Jan. 23 at 8 am and it closes on Fri., Jan. 27 at 5 pm. Applications will be processed on a lottery basis.  Click here to learn more or apply. 

Preservation Grants: The State Historic Preservation Office is offering grants for work on historic properties and archaeology projects. The annual grants offer up to $20,000 in matching funds for preservation projects.  

Work may include non-maintenance preservation like window repair, roof work, foundation projects, plumbing, and electrical needs. Recently funded projects included the Willamette Grange Hall in Corvallis. 

The online grant application is simple to use and includes plenty of support. Free, online grant workshops specific to these grant programs and how to use the online grant application are being offered.  

  • February 15, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. for Preserving Oregon Grants historic property projects.
    • February 15, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. for Preserving Oregon Grants historic archaeology projects.
    • February 16, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. for Diamonds in the Rough building façade projects.Visit the Oregon Heritage grants webpage to register. Recorded trainings and tips are also online. To learn more about the grants and workshops visit www.oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill at Kuri.Gill@oprd.oregon.gov or 503-986-0685. 

Beem Slated for Women in Business: Andrea Beem is owner and principal broker for her own real estate business, and has won distinctions as a Business of the Year and MAPS coach. Soon to be a published author, Beem maintains the key to customer service is creating memorable moments, and at the next Women in Business Luncheon, she shares from her years of experience on how to make that happen. 

The luncheon is slated from 12 to 1 pm, Wed., Jan. 18 at the Courtyard Marriott in Corvallis. Click here to register. 

Educational Small Business Mixer: Later on the 18th, socialize a little and learn a lot as local expert Samantha Alley unwraps asset, profit center and financial security aspects of real estate for business owners. Add to this, an examination of how local home rental and ownership trends may impact your human resources efforts now and going into the future. 

Alley has decades of experience, and has worked in Willamette Valley real estate since 1994. Notably, she is a go-to expert that we rely on at The Advocate. 

These Small Business Mixers are hosted by a regular team of local financial experts that includes Alley, along with Rob Scheier from Edward Jones and Heidi Clodfelter of Principle Property Management.  

Slated for 6 to 7:30 pm, Wed., Jan. 18 at The Hub at Re/Max Integrity, 535 SW 2nd St., downtown Corvallis. Let them know you’re coming, RSVP@hometeamoregon.com. 

Sustainability Coalition, Annual Meeting: Featuring presentations on accomplishments during the past year, the Coalition’s action teams have pursued major projects, such as: Solarize Corvallis to help our community make the transition to renewable energy, It’s On Us Corvallis to support our local restaurants and help people in need of a meal, and No Food Left Behind Corvallis to address the environmental, social, and economic impacts of wasted food.  

Much of the work done in 2022 – the Coalition’s 16th year – focused on climate action and social equity. Several Coalition projects are helping to implement the Corvallis Climate Action Plan, while others strive to address systemic inequities, and some do both.

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is a network of more than 350 partner organizations, like businesses, non-profits, faith communities, educational institutions and government entities. The mission of the group is to promote an ecologically, socially, and economically healthy city and county.  

This event is scheduled for 12 to 1:30 pm, Thurs., Jan. 19. For more information, or to register for this online event, click here. 

Artisanal Marketing Advice: Consumers are willing to pay more for familiar, versus unfamiliar, varieties of cheese if there is a sticker on the cheese indicating it won an award or if sensory information about the cheese – such as a description of its taste or food pairing suggestions – is included, a new study from Oregon State University shows. 

The study also identified two broad groups of consumers whose cheese buying preferences differ. A group that prefers unfamiliar foods is willing to pay a premium for unfamiliar cheeses and an award sticker plays a much more important role than sensory information. The opposite is true for consumers who prefer familiar cheese varieties: sensory information play a much stronger role in willingness to pay more. 

The study was in part motivated by the shift to online grocery shopping, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. While online grocery shopping has its notable advantages, the researchers note, the impacts can vary greatly for different food categories. 

For example, specialty food products such as wine or cheese that are made on a small scale and have traditionally relied on in-person recommendations or product sampling might be more in need of new marketing strategies because online shopping can’t provide a real-time, in-person tasting experience. 

“This is an under-studied area that is growing in importance, especially as people shift to buying groceries online and as subscription food boxes grow in popularity,” said Nadia Streletskaya, an assistant professor of applied economics at Oregon State. “Our study can help specialty food producers, many of whom operate on a small scale with limited budgets, determine best ways to promote their products.” 

The researchers expect that the patterns they found with artisan cheese consumers could hold for buyers of other specialty foods, such as wine or different milk types, but more research is needed to make that conclusion. 

For the study, the researchers evaluated how sensory information and the presence of award labels affected consumer demand for two familiar (brie, cheddar) and two unfamiliar (Coulommiers, Cantal) varieties of artisanal cheeses in the U.S. A total of 488 artisanal cheese consumers from two regions – 270 from Corvallis, Oregon and 218 from Ithaca, New York – took part in the online study. 

Participants were shown side-by-side images of two cheese varieties, with price information as well as some combination of an award sticker or sensory information about the cheese. An example of the sensory information, this for the Cantal: “A tangy and bold cheese with a crumbly, hard texture.” 

The award sticker and sensory information were chosen because they are common and relatively low-cost promotional strategies that translate well to the online retail environment. 

After being shown the images, participants were asked to select which cheese they preferred to purchase. They also had an option to make no purchase. 

The researchers found participants fell into two broad groups: 

  • The group that prefers unfamiliar foods, which made up about 44% of the total, look for cheeses not known to them and display a significantly higher willingness to pay for them. The researchers found that such consumers already are willing to pay a premium for less familiar varieties and an award sticker and sensory information further increase their willingness to pay. 
  • Consumers who don’t appreciate unfamiliar varieties, who accounted for about 47% of the sample, respond especially well to sensory descriptions. In other words, sensory descriptions and food pairing suggestions could compensate for their hesitancy to pay for unfamiliar cheeses. 

“I would say the biggest takeaway of the study for the industry is to think about what type of consumer you are trying to attract and to adjust your promotional plans to match what they are looking for,” said Streletskaya, whose research broadly looks at how food labeling impacts consumer demand. 

Also a factor, she said, is that sensory descriptions can be costly, depending on the retail outlet, while award stickers can be more easily incorporated in the packaging design, 

Co-authors of the paper are Sara Maruyama, Susan Queisser, Sherri Cole and Juyun Lim, of Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Science, and Alina Stelick of Cornell University. 

The research was supported by an OSU Dairy Foods Innovation Fund. 

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