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New competition opens Kenny grocery stores to entrepreneurs

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The Kenny Family Stores of Delaware is holding a pitch competition for entrepreneurs looking to be stocked on their Shoprite shelves. | PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNY FAMILY STORES OF DELAWARE

WILMINGTON – Culinary entrepreneurs have a unique chance of getting their products on the shelves of the No. 1 grocery chain in the state through a “Shank Tank”-style pitch competition.

The Kenny Family Stores of Delaware, owner of six Shoprites in New Castle County, launched “Aisle Trials,” a web series and pitch competition seeking the best food items to feature on their shelves.

Applicants have to upload a 60-second pitch video showcasing their product to the “Aisle Trials” website and a judging panel led by Kenny Family Stores President & CEO Chris L. Kenny will select three finalists to present their products at a virtual pitch session.

The winning pitch will receive the opportunity to have their brand sold in the group’s Shoprites, which have topped the list of highest grossing grocery stores in Delaware for the last five years.

“‘Aisle Trials’ is an opportunity for brands in all phases of their business. In our quickly evolving landscape, this direct-to-retail opportunity was created to give consumers and businesses a look behind the scenes of the supermarket vendor selection process and offer local businesses a platform, mentorship, and retail opportunity. ‘Aisle Trials’ is a vehicle to provide support to our local Main Street businesses, big and small,” Chris Kenny told Delaware Business Times.

As of Oct. 23, nine submissions have been uploaded in the competition, including products like pasta sauce from Mrs. Robino’s Italian restaurant in Wilmington and Seasoned Kissess by Nailah Amour, a startup spice company. Others include 6 AM Run, an exercise supplement company that has gained the endorsement of retired boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Well Spices, a spice retailer that focuses on single-serving packages about the size of teabags.

While only one submission will win the chance to be featured on store shelves, a web series about the competition will help raise the brand of the other budding entrepreneurs. There will also be further opportunities to work with the Kenny Family Shoprites, according to Chris Kenny.

“We have a second season launching at the end of December and our team is currently planning for ‘Aisle Trials’ 2021 programming. We continue to receive an outpouring of support and interest from people in the local business community, including venture capital and business chambers,” he said.

“Aisle Trials” is not the first time that the Kenny Family stores have found space for local entrepreneurs and restaurateurs, and just recently they began featuring take-home portions of Italian meals from nearby La Casa Pasta, of the Martuscelli Restaurant Group, in its Glasgow store.

“We encourage local restaurants, food purveyors, and brands that would sell well in a supermarket to submit their products to ‘Aisle Trials’. We are open to exploring the possibilities of local partnerships,” Kenny said.

“Aisle Trials” submissions will continue to be taken through Oct. 31 and fan voting will last until Nov. 7. The first campaign winner will be named in December. For more info, visit chrislkenny.com/aisle-trials/

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

UPDATE: The Kenny Family of stores has extended the submission period and the story has been updated to reflect that.

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