Prairie Harvest had a lot to celebrate this past weekend. Not only was the specialty food store in downtown Newton celebrating its 19th anniversary, but this weekend also marked the official launch of its rebrand — with the store now to be officially known as Prairy Market and Deli.
Store signage was changed last week and owner Aaron Gaeddert noted the business is in the process of completely changing its online presence, including its website, Facebook, etc. While Oct. 24 marked the official date for the Prairy Market and Deli name to go live, Gaeddert said it has been in the works for a few years.
Gaeddert said he and his family did not have the intent to change the Prairie Harvest identity when they took ownership of the business five years ago, but circumstances outside their control made change necessary.
The existence of another Prairie Harvest (in South Dakota) led to some potential trademark issues with the branded products — like peppernuts, wine crackers, trail mix, etc. — the Newton store was trying to sell out of state. Quickly, though, a simple solution presented itself.
"We decided that rather than try and navigate the world of two Prairie Harvests both selling specialty foods, which would limit our options and our ability to expand, that we would kind of come up with a new brand, a new sort of identity that we could stand behind and push out there," Gaeddert said.
From there, the Prairy brand — with its own trademark — was born. However, as the popularity of those products has grown in recent years, some confusion arose in the divide between the local and national aspects of the business — namely in customers outside Kansas questioning why they were making payments to or calling Prairie Harvest for their orders.
On the verge of its 20th anniversary, and to help alleviate some of those shipping business issues, the decision was made to rebrand Prairie Harvest as Prairy Market and Deli this year. Gaeddert also said enough time had passed from the rebrand that he believed it would be accepted locally (something he was a little worried about).
Local customers shouldn't expect much change outside of the new name, Gaeddert noted, as business will proceed under the Prairy banner much as it has for the last 19 years. There is no major product launch tied to the rebrand, but Gaeddert did say the businesses is adding a few smaller amenities, such as new insulated freezer bags to highlight the freezer meals offered at Prairy, as well as newly branded pint glasses to coincide with the recent issuance of the store's cereal malt beverage license to sell specialty beers.
"There's a few new products that are kind of related, but we're not launching a new wholesale product, not a new product to sell out," Gaeddert said. "Within the store, we're continuing to try out new things and trying to keep things fresh for the customers. As the business evolves, we'll hopefully keep coming up with new things, innovating and continuing to do things that are firsts in Newton and downtown."
Change is inevitable, especially in the current business market. With the continued expansion of Prairy products, offerings through the deli and catering and the new mezzanine event space in the building, Gaeddert welcomes customers to embrace what is new with the business.
While under a new name, Gaeddert also assured customers the history of Prairie Harvest will not be forgotten as that has helped lead the business to this point.
"It is something that is really important I think ... there's only a very small percentage of businesses that can actually succeed and make it past five years. So, 19 years, even 14 years at a time, is a real accomplishment, especially with the change in market. Being able to exist in a town like Newton where it's so close to Wichita and a lot of people get drawn that way, and a food business where so much of the business is going mainstream to the grocery stores and the Walmarts, the fact that Prairie Harvest has made it this long is really an accomplishment," Gaeddert said. "We're excited about what we can do under the Prairy brand, what kinds of recognition we can bring to Newton. We think the rebranding is just gonna propel us forward and be the right move."