Part of the “new normal” coming out of the coronavirus pandemic is a desire to celebrate even the small things in life and gather after so much isolation, according to two local entrepreneurs. With a rise in demand to celebrate, companies like Abundant Graze and Picnic Pop up SC arose.
Michelle Richards and Peggy Boggess, owners of Abundant Graze, jumped on the rising trend of making these snack trays in 2020 as one of the first charcuterie companies in Columbia. A charcuterie board is essentially a meat and cheese board that can have other snacks like fruit, nuts and crackers on it for easy grazing.
“The individual boxes were a great, creative take on something that was COVID-friendly, that you can drop off or have picked up with no contact,” said Richards. “And when people were feeling like they couldn’t go out to eat and they didn’t have treats to themselves, this was just a nice date-night in.”
Richards said she’s made upwards of 70 boxes in a weekend at times, but usually sells around 30 boxes a week. A basic grazing box costs $50 and individual boxes start at $15 per box and range all the way to a large box for $125.
Richards started the company with her mother, Boggess, about a year ago after getting the idea from a friend in Florida. Richards is a mom of three and gave up teaching kindergarten when the business took off over the summer. Boggess still teaches high school in Irmo while helping to run the family business.
Abundant Graze is growing to meet the rising demand. Richards said she is hiring people to join the team, recently got a license to be a Soda City vendor and acquired a DHEC-licensed commercial kitchen space to use for creating the boxes instead of making them at her home.
Richards’ boxes are used as closing gifts for local realtors, events at the University of South Carolina and even for a new, local pop-up picnic business.
“I definitely think people are excited to just celebrate life in general, I mean that’s why you see the picnic thing being so popular,” said Alexandra Woodlief. “You’re just celebrating a Sunday together, eating cheese and charcuterie, but people are so excited about it and it still creates a buzz.”
Woodlief’s new business, Picnic Pop up SC, is a once-a-month experience where her team chooses a different venue in Columbia and curates a picture-perfect picnic event.
Event planning was in Woodlief’s wheelhouse already, as she owns the popular, local wedding planning business Alexandra Madison Weddings. After noticing that her clients and friends in Columbia desired more social, outdoor activities during the pandemic, she knew that a pop-up picnic idea could work.
Woodlief also noticed a trend in the event industry of “pod-style” seating arrangements that allow people to stay in their “comfortable bubbles outside,” she said.
The first picnic will be April 25 at Magnolia Way Venue, and customers can buy brunch or lunch tickets during different time slots. The picnics include a grazing board, beverage bar, live entertainment and picnic set-up supplies.
Designated picnic areas for families, romantic partners and those focused on entertainment will be spread out around the different properties. Picnics will include entertainment ranging from lawn games to live music concerts.
Picnic tickets are $80 per adult and $25 for children 6 years old or younger. Add-ons range from $20 to $50 for things like a photo shoot, mimosa kit or an umbrella for your picnic spot.
“I think that the celebration concept has grown and will probably continue to do so for this year, and hopefully next,” Woodlief said. “ I think it will pop up some fun, new, creative ways for people to get outside again.”