First, grab a spoon, a bowl and some milk. Because by the time you’re done reading this, you’re going to be more than ready for a bowl of Little Town Granola.
A few years back, Aarica and Daniel Sohar decided that they really wanted to develop a business that would allow them to spend more time with their children. At that time, they were looking forward to their youngest son’s birth, and Daniel was working a full time job.
“Making granola was just something we did at home,” said Aarica. “Ever since I was little, I always loved to bake. I loved creating recipes, adding ingredients, taking away ingredients. And once I was married, and had four boys, it was a challenge to help them eat healthy. I have a passion for cooking and having healthy foods.”
“Granola seemed perfect. Daniel and I have always been entrepreneurs at heart, and all about our family. The 5 different kinds of granola were put together so everyone could have a special taste that they liked.” Little Town Flavors include Simply Granola, Chocolate Granola, Banana Walnut Granola, Cinnamon Raisin Granola, and Cranberry Walnut Granola.
By the time their youngest was born, Aarica was bagging granola during his naps, and Little Town Granola was on the verge of becoming a big hit.
Aarica remembers how it began. “We started to market it, and Lehman’s was the first to carry it. We were about a mile down the road from Lehman’s at that time. We made the granolas at home and took them in. They supported us and encouraged us. In March 2010 we had stock in the the store in Kidron.” This year, Little Town Granolas are featured exclusive items in Lehman’s Fall/Winter 2012 and 2013 Annual catalogs, and are available at the Kidron, Ohio store, and on the Lehmans.com website.
It didn’t take the Sohars long to realize that they had a hit on their hands. When asked when she realized they were onto something big, she hesitates before answering. “Well, we don’t want to sound prideful.” She thinks a moment, and then goes on. “Daniel and I realized we were onto something when Lehman’s was so nice as to invite us to do sampling at 2010 Spring Open House. We had some samples, and we had about 100 pounds to sell and we sold out on that Friday. We rushed home that night, we put the kids to bed, and we stayed up until about 3 AM, and we made and packed granola that night. We kept saying, ‘Oh my, we gotta make a little more next time!'” She laughs, remembering that frantic Friday night.
Their granola is different–it’s not the hard, crunchy stuff you get in big box stores. It’s softer, almost like a chewy cookie, with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and no added sugars. If you top a bowlful with milk, and pop it in the microwave, you’ll get a hot cereal that’s rich, tasty and good for you, packed with whole grains and raw honey.
Their business has grown along with their family. “In November of 2011 we did make the move from having the granola production in our home to a local bakery. The reason for doing that was that we just couldn’t keep up with the demand at home. It’s been a smooth process. We’re really committed, and we make everything the same. We have a bigger oven, and we’re making the same great granola we’ve always made. We have one full-time baker; two part-timers for bagging and labeling; plus us.” And even though Little Town is a regional success, Aarica is still looking ahead.
“We can’t wait for the day when we will all be together in the bakery,” she says. Daniel’s kept his day job, although Aarica is now at home with their four boys, who now range from 18 months to age 5. These busy parents have goals set for this booming family business in a little town in Amish Country, Ohio.