Snacks without borders Winnipeg brothers kept hopping selling imported treats typically not available locally
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/08/2021 (597 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The reviews are in. They’re pretty sweet.
Joel, Jason and Jeremy Revereza are the “bros” behind Snack Bros Wpg, an online store that delivers hard-to-come-by treats from around the world directly to your front door; everything from Nerds candy ropes to Kellogg’s Froot Loops-flavoured Pop Tarts to Smurfs sour candies to Pepsi Blue.
Since launching their sugar-rich biz in early July, the siblings, each in his 30s, have been inundated with dozens of messages along the lines of “Where have you been all my life?”, “What kind of magic sorcery did I just stumble upon?” and, more to the point, “GET. OUT!,” the latter in reference to a Pillsbury buttermilk pancake and waffle mix containing — pass the syrup, please and thanks — chunks of Oreo cookies.
“It’s been a lot crazier than we anticipated, not that we’re complaining,” says Jason, seated alongside Joel at a picnic table in Kildonan Park, 10 minutes from their respective homes in Amber Trails. “We weren’t sure how popular it was going to be, we were just kind of hoping. But after selling more than 80 per cent of our initial inventory in the first 48 hours we were up and running, we were like, OK, Winnipeg was obviously ready for this type of thing.”
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Joel, eldest of the three, was living in Calgary when their mother Erlinda, who moved to Winnipeg from the Philippines more than 40 years ago, died in early May at age 71. He travelled to Winnipeg for her funeral, and spent a few weeks here afterward, helping his brothers deal with their loss.
Days after their mom’s death, they were discussing ways to honour her memory over a cup of coffee. She often stressed how important it was that they remain close with one another, whether they lived in different cities or not. Also, they recalled her saying how it would put a big smile on her face if they ever joined forces one day and started a business of their own.
Perhaps that was the way to go, they concurred. But what kind of business?
While they were tossing ideas back and forth, Jason asked Joel and Jeremy if they remembered family trips to the States, when, as children, they would invariably load up on gummies and potato chips that were unavailable in Canada the second their parents stopped for gas in Grand Forks or Fargo. He missed having the opportunity to do that with his wife and three kids owing to travel restrictions surrounding COVID-19, he said, and opined there were probably others in the city and province who felt the same way.
That got them thinking: Instead of crossing the border for Baby Ruth bars and Cap’n Crunch’s All-Berries cereal, what if they brought the border to Winnipeg, by loading up on myriad confections, and distributing them to interested sweet tooths themselves?
That sounded great, they agreed, but it wasn’t until they shared their brainstorm with a relative in Toronto that they figured out how Snack Bros Wpg, a tag they came up with early on, would operate, exactly. It turned out their cousin had a friend who worked as a food distributor, who was willing to share a list of available products from North America and the United Kingdom with the Reverezas. Go through his catalogues, let him know what tempted their taste buds and he’d sell it to them wholesale, they were told.
The brothers spent most of June laying the groundwork for the biz. While awaiting their first shipment of goodies, Jason, an IT whiz, created a coming-soon-type account on Instagram, linking it to an online form people would be able to use to select from categories such as candy, cookies, drinks and spreads. When asked what’s meant by “spreads,” Joel, who moved to Winnipeg permanently at the start of July, turns his phone around, showing off a jar of Mars Milk Chocolate Caramel Spread, guaranteed to make your next slice of toast taste of nougat, caramel and toasted almonds. (You know you’re old if, like this scribe, you still associate Mars bars with Canadian Olympic ski champ Nancy Greene.)
Also, because Winnipeggers are known to enjoy freebies, they announced a $100 giveaway tied to their July 2 “grand opening.” Not only did the contest attract hundreds of entries, it resulted in dozens of pre-orders to boot, including one from a gal who wiped the Willy Wonka-come-latelys out of every last bag of Nerds Gummy Clusters they were expecting, in one fell swoop.
“Same thing with Chick-Fil-A Polynesian sauce. Before the bottles were even unpacked, they were all accounted for,” says Joel, who’d never sampled that particular condiment before, but now slathers the contents of a squeeze bottle he bought for himself on chicken nuggets, natch, but also eggs, burgers, smokies… even pizza.
It isn’t just the three of them deciding what to bring in next, Jason points out. From time to time, they plan to run polls, asking their Instagram followers what sounds appetizing, by allowing them to choose between this, that and the other. (Notorious B.I.G. honey-jalopeno chips? Yay. Boosie Louisiana Hot & Spicy Chicken Ramen? Yeah, not so much.)
“Just the other day we did (a poll) featuring Lucky Charms marshmallows, which come in a bag, minus the cereal,” he says. “It’s not something I would ever eat, it sounds a little too sugary for my liking, but after getting a ton more yesses than nos, we put in an order for a box full.” (No word on whether Winnipeg dentists have approached the trio, asking to slip a business card in with every purchase.)
The Reverezas acknowledge Snack Bros isn’t an essential service. They get that, at the end of the day, nobody really needs a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Bite or a key lime pie-flavoured Kit Kat bar. That said, after what the world’s been through during the last 18 months, maybe, just maybe, they came along at the right time. Perhaps people exhausted by one set of restrictions after another are simply in the mood to reward themselves with a snack or 10, they feel. If that’s the case then great, they’re only too happy to oblige.
“We have talked a bit about opening a storefront one day, which would allow us to add frozen products like ice cream to the mix,” Jason says. “The thing is, we’re just starting out and we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. For sure, though, we’re curious to see where all of this takes us, in the months and years ahead.”
Before we let them go, what about their mom, who inspired their venture in the first place? Do they think she’d be a big fan of Snack Bros Wpg?
“Ha, she definitely liked her snacks, when she was watching her favourite TV shows,” Joel says with a chuckle. “It’s just too bad we didn’t do this when she was still with us because we have a feeling she would have been one of our No. 1 customers.”
For more information – same-day delivery in Winnipeg and surrounding bedroom communities is available on purchases of $25 or more – go to SnackBrosWPG (@snackbroswpg) • Instagram photos and videos
Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.