HUGUENOT—It’s never a bad time of year to buy chocolate-covered pretzels for someone, but the Pretzel Princess has found that Valentines Day makes a really good excuse.
Betty Lou Kranz, the owner Pretzel Princess, started making pretzels after she lost her job as a bus driver for the Port Jervis City School district in 2008.
She didn’t start with pretzels right away though. She dabbled in artisan dog treats and decorative baskets, but it was the baskets with pretzels that people wanted, so rather than fight the market, she started the Pretzel Princess, a boutique chocolate pretzel business right out of her home.
Over the last seven years her business has grown, and with it the variety of flavors she offers. She has over 22 flavors of chocolate pretzels, ranging from the whimsical, like orange creamsicle, cotton candy, rootbeer float, and bubblegum, to the more traditional, like milk chocolate, peanut butter swirl, and cookies and cream.
She recently introduced an assortment of chocolate barks, which is swirled chocolate mixed with flavors, and chocolate brittles that come in both gluten and nut free varieties.
“That’s rockets. Whenever we go some place, it sells like crazy,” said Kranz.
And her most popular pretzel? Tropical Coconut, a milk chocolate coated pretzel with toasted coconut flakes on it.
The Pretzel Princess is the definition of a cottage industry and Kranz, an entrepreneur. Everything is made out of a 10 by 32 foot extension to her home, and she does everything herself, from the design of the logo and website to the pretzels themselves.
Right now she mostly sells through the Internet, shipping her goodies around the country, but hopes to one day open a storefront and serve her customers in person.
“I am very personable,” she said. “I like to be able to say ‘Hey Tom, how’re you doing? How’s the family?'”
She does travel to expos around the northeast, which helps acquaint people with her products, and she recently started offering a fundraiser option that lets organizations use a promotion code on her website to raise money.
While it is not a big money maker, she says, it gets her name into people’s consciousness, and her pretzels into their mouth.
“It’s not so much by word of mouth, but mouth to mouth—you try it, you send it, you try it… So everybody who likes it will pay if forward, so to speak,” she said.
She insists marketing is not her forte, but a Google search for the name Pretzel Princess turns up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Google+.
As for the name, she used to be Kranz Kreations, but people were confusing her pretzels with dog treats so she started looking for a new name. She got the name Pretzel Princess from a fellow vendor at a chocolate expo who called her that as a nickname.
“He’d be screaming ‘Hey, hey Pretzel Princess, where are you?” she said. “So when I got thinking about what I should name it [the company], I decided to let him name me.”
It’s not easy running the entire business herself with only occasional help from friends, and most of the time the Pretzel Princess looks more like Cinderella, slaving away in the kitchen. But when she is selling her pretzels and talking to customers, she wears a tiara.
“It’s nice to be known for something,” she said. “My friends and family have other names for me, but that’s one of the most people call me.”
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