While the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses, it has also provided an opportunity to re-evaluate how we connect with our customers through our product offerings. For some brave souls, experimenting with new tactics has led to great success. This is one of those stories:
As McKinsey notes in Reimagining Marketing in the Next Normal, while analyzing data and trends has always been an important feature of marketing efforts, “we believe that harnessing imagination may be just as critical.” The journey of a little shop called TacoNacoKC is full of imagination, heart, and the skillful navigation of change.
In fact, TacoNacoKC’s origins were entirely hypothetical. Feast Magazine writes that as part of his graduate work at UMKC, Brian Goldman imagined starting a catering company with his wife, chef Fernanda Reyes. He used the nonexistent company as a thought experiment for his project management courses, and eventually the idea became so full-fledged that the two decided to put it into practice.
Proof of Concept
When COVID arrived in the US, everything changed. Forced by safety guidelines to pivot away from in-person catering service, Reyes and Goldman took a leap and began selling freshly made salsas with chips at the Overland Park Farmer’s Market. The market itself was going through a transition as it sought to stay open while keeping customers safe – first as a drive-through experience and then as a socially-distanced, open air market. TacoNacoKC’s folding tables found a welcoming home.
The salsas were a big hit and the couple quickly expanded their offerings, eventually moving beyond salsas to take-home taco kits (which resulted in some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had!) and margarita mixes. McKinsey notes that a “key issue for marketers in navigating this ‘homebody economy’ is in integrating it into the proliferating service and products anchored in the home.” By providing take-home kits for customers, TacoNacoKC was able to introduce itself into consumer’s homes with delicious results.
While operating a catering service, Reyes and Goldman had never considered retail to be part of their plan, but their quick thinking during the early days of the pandemic gave them the opportunity to prove the concept to the market and to themselves.
Brick and Mortar
Now, as society begins to inch closer to the way things were before COVID, TacoNacoKC is entering a new phase of its growth. Reyes and Goldman have recently opened a brick and mortar store in Overland Park. Part retail market selling salsas, margarita mixes, and fresh produce (sourced from their new friends at the farmer’s market), and part taqueria/restaurant, this venture benefits from a great reputation formed over the pandemic summer. In fact, without the challenges of the past year, TacoNacoKC might have remained a catering company instead of evolving into a local favorite destination.
The lesson for entrepreneurs and marketers is to remain open to change, willing to run lean and make new discoveries, and then follow through on that knowledge with action. We congratulate Reyes and Goldman on their ability to create a pandemic success story with TacoNacoKC – and we’re looking forward to many more tacos in the future!