How to Build a Bulk Buying Business on Quality, then Price

By George Brozowski

If youíre looking for herbs and spices, spice blends, teas, baking items, nuts, seeds, dehydrated veggies, essential oils, botanicals or potpourri, thereís only one place on the planet that has the highest quality and lowest prices anywhere. With over 565 SKUís made available through almost 100 grower/suppliers from around the world, that place is San Francisco Herb and its East Coast sister company, Atlantic Spice Company. And their high quality and low pricing isnít just available to the trade in bulk. Itís yours in quantities that make sense for your particular needs and your kitchen.

Neil Hanscomb

It all began back in 1973 when Neil Hanscomb, a lean, tan, grey haired sailboard enthusiast, bought into the business and, twenty years later, became sole proprietor. Neilís a left brained, CPA kind of guy with a penchant for computers. He brings those traits to full bear on his business as he buys his products internationally directly from the sources, at the height of the harvest in quantities that not only fill container loads needed for optimum pricing, but with an understanding of how to move those quantities throughout the year in order to have space for the upcoming yearís crop. The customer is always getting the highest quality spices no matter what time of year it is. He is the master of the vertically integrated system known as the supply chain.

Seasons and harvests vary across the globe. Neil has visited his suppliers around the world and makes it a point to keep track of every aspect of his supply chain. If itís July, there is probably a container of chamomile, basil and hibiscus arriving from Egypt. If itís September, it could be a shipment of garlic coming from China. Yes, China. Now Gilroy, California is still the ìGarlic Capital of the Worldî but urban sprawl has taken its toll on the growing fields of San Jose, and China has taken up the slack by producing a quality product. Neil and his company are fluid enough to take advantage of shifting international markets. In 1986 when the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl Russia melted down, it dramatically affected the production of oregano in the Mediterranean. Mexico stepped up to the plate and started producing oregano for the international market. Neal followed the market to consistently bring the best oregano in the world into the USA for his customers.

Unlike a broadline distributor whose primary concern is price, San Francisco Herb is a specialty house whose main concern is quality and then price. Neil obtains the finest herbs and spices and buys them in large enough quantity that his products are always the freshest available at prices much lower than his competition. Neilís operations are also as green as they can be. He insists on his vendors supplying him product that is natural, chemical residue free and whenever possible organic or as close to organic as different countries of origin designate.

Combined sales for both locations tops over $4 million and the combined customer data base includes more than 30,000 names. You can get your herbs and spices directly from Neil on his website at or give him a call to order directly at 800-227-4530


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