Craig family food fight
Local family owns Edible Arrangements franchises in West Linn and Hillsboro
Something so beautiful, shouldnt taste so good. But it does. There are cherry red boxes of cinnamon and chocolate-dipped apple wedges. There are bountiful bouquets of cantaloupe and honeydew, and pineapple pieces shaped like miniature cupcakes that have been dipped in semisweet chocolate and kissed with sprinkles.
A West Linn family is making magic in the kitchen. The Craig family â€“ Tom, Cindy, Matt and Lisa own Edible Arrangements stores in West Linn and Hillsboro. Alyssa, 14, will join the family effort soon.
After working a lot of years in the corporate field I wanted to do something on my own, Tom Craig said. I wanted to go out on a limb and take that leap of faith.
So Craig and his wife, Cindy, researched a new business venture. At first, they decided on a Nestle Toll House cookie franchise, but one night while watching television, the couple came across an Edible Arrangements commercial. Within the same week, they had plane tickets to Connecticut and signed the papers on their new business.
As soon as we saw the product on TV we knew thats what we wanted to do, to provide fresh, healthy fruit, Cindy Craig said.
We had never heard of the business before, Tom said. We were completely in awe of the business. We wanted to do something fresh and exciting and fun and it just came together.
The West Linn location opened in 2007 and the Hillsboro location opened in 2009. The couples son, Matt, and his wife, Lisa, operate the Hillsboro store.
Within the first couple months we realized the business has a lot of potential," Tom said. "We have the latest and greatest product. Its fresh, new and exciting, but there are a lot of people who dont know who we are or what we do.
Learn about the business with questions and answers below.
Q: What makes Edible Arrangements gifts unique?
Tom: Its so fresh and new. Its like the excitement that comes with getting a bouquet of flowers.
Cindy: Its beautiful to look at and you get to eat it!
Matt: But its also something you can sit down and eat and share with friends and family.
Q: What type of person or occasion are Edible Arrangements good for?
Matt: Its really an every occasion gift.
Cindy: Its become more and more popular for kids because its a healthier alternative to a birthday cake.
Tom: Weve even done several 100-year-old birthdays. Or, some people will just order a fruit basket for dinner.
Q: Do you take lots of fruit baskets home?
Tom: We used to bring it home, now we are strictly meat eaters. (The family giggles.)
Cindy: Well, you never get tired of chocolate-dipped items. Its just that we eat so much fruit at work. We constantly taste the fruit to make sure its the best, freshest produce available.
Q: How long does it take to make an arrangement?
Cindy: We cut all the fruit here in the store, so doing lots of arrangements versus just one actually takes less time. But we can usually make anything customers see in brochures or online within an hour.
Q: How long do the arrangements stay fresh?
Tom: It will be fresh for a couple of days if its refrigerated between uses.
Q: Whats your most popular arrangement?
Cindy: We just introduced the cupcake arrangement and its blown every other arrangement away because its new and has chocolate included.
Tom: Eighty-five percent of arrangements have some sort of chocolate in it.
Q: What sort of fun shapes can you make fruit into?
Cindy: This time of year we can make leaves and ghosts and cupcakes, stars, daisies and gingerbread men.
Q: Do you ever get strange requests?
Tom: Weve had people ask if we can put vegetables in the arrangement or put the arrangement in grandpas strange urn. But we are a franchise and have to follow specific arrangements.
Matt: Plus, we have so many different variations. We should have everything the customer wants.
Q: What is your busiest time of the year?
Tom: Thanksgiving through Christmas is busy, but the number one time of the year traditionally has been Mothers Day followed by Valentines Day. The fastest growing holidays are Fathers Day and Easter.
Q: Whats the largest order youve filled?
Tom: Events are really big for us because our prices become very economical with large orders. Some of our baskets can feed well over 60 to 80 people.
Cindy: We also do weddings. We have special containers and colors that will work for almost any wedding. We do a lot of centerpieces for table decorations and bigger baskets for buffet lines and dessert tables.
Matt: One bride even used an edible arrangement for her bouquet instead of flowers.
Q: How many pounds of fruit to you go through each week?
Tom: Gosh thats a tough question. On a regular week, between the two stores, Id say about 1,200 pounds of fruit. But its probably a third more on top of that during the busy holidays.
Cindy: We get fresh fruit every day and if we have to, we can get it twice a day.
Q: Do you deliver?
Tom: We are about 70 percent delivery and we have a wide delivery area. Of the five stores in the Portland area we can cover customers basically from Salem to Vancouver.
Lisa: Our Hillsboro store has customers all along the coast, especially McMinnville.
Cindy: If the order is big enough, well go anywhere.
Q: Do you find yourselves getting creative with food at home?
Tom: No. McDonald's and pizza always looks the same. (The family giggles.)
Cindy: We do hear from some of our employees who are in high school that their parents expect them to cut their fruit for them.
Q: Do you think customers go home and try to recreate Edible Arrangements?
Cindy: I really think they do. We have people come in and say they went home and tried it but it was way too much work.
Q: Do you come home smelling good?
Tom: I come home smelling like sweaty fruit.
Matt: Yeah, you do end up wearing the fruit and even the chocolate.
For more information or to order, visit ediblearrangements.com or call 503-650-2822.