5 Boro Goods is an aggregator of artisanal New York City-based goods such as chocolate, chips, nuts, crackers, drink mixes and granola bars. The goods are sold as a curated product to hotels across the city to be used in their minibars.
Spano said they are looking for producers with innovative products that are located within the five boroughs.
Currently, there are 250 products that are available. Local Queens producers that could potentially work with 5 Boro Goods include Queens Brewery, Ash Apothecary, Rick’s Picks, Uji Smoothies Crack Toffee, Bao Food & Drink and Descendant Cider Company.
Meanwhile, 5 Boro Goods have plans to work with hotels in the borough, including Paper Factory Hotel, Z NYC Hotel, Nesva Hotel, Hotel Vetiver, Ravel Hotel, Hyatt Place Flushing/Laguardia Airport Hotel and The Parc Hotel.
The company is looking to expand their presence through more partnerships with local producers and hotels.
To determine what type of order a hotel will require, the company will visit the hotel to see study their “housekeeping logistics.” Additionally, 5 Boro Goods can work with hotels on specific guest requests.
For instance, if a guest is celebrating a special anniversary, the company can take the special request 24-48 hours in advance to curate appropriate items.
“Since we are familiar with so many of the local food producers, we can go around with our own van, pick up the goods and deliver it to the hotels on demand,” Spano said.
Hotels are able to tell 5 Boro Goods how many sweet, savory and meal-like items, such as salsa or cured bacon, they would like to stock in their minibars. Each season, the company will create a rotating list of food producers who will be able to work with the hotels, some even exclusively.
“A lot of people say that minibars are dead and they’re so expensive, but people do purchase from them,” Spano said. “It’s really innovative higher-end and newer hotels that are still stocking items, whether in the room or the lobby or a concierge desk.”
Even though 5 Boro Goods just recently launched, Unter and Spano have been molding this company for a while. Spano grew up behind the counter of her family’s store, Te-Amo, in Bayside. She also has previous hospitality experience.
Besides owning the Forest Hills deli, Unter is also an attorney and has worked with various medium-sized companies throughout his career and has done pro bono work for Pratt Institute’s School for Design.
“I fell in love with startups, and when I eventually switched over to food and bought [Redwood Deli], I was looking to food-based startups, incubators, distribution channels, and how best to serve that community,” Unter said.
At first, Unter aggregated different products and sold them at Redwood Deli as part of a gift basket. There were also plans for an Etsy shop, but Unter and Spano ran with the idea to deal in volume.
“What we do here is support the jobs and the businesses,” Unter said. “They’re getting direct access to a travel or business class that they otherwise wouldn’t get.”
The ultimate sale entities are the New York City hotels. Rather than have a hotel minibar with Oreos, Toblerone and Frito Lays chips, 5 Boro Goods wants to provide travelers with a more New York experience.
While minibars are generally not considered revenue centers for hotels, the company is assuming that there will be more turnover when it comes to the local goods.
“When you look at a box of Oreos, you may see that it’s $7.50 and you could go downstairs to the bodega for the same thing,” Unter explained. “But if you see something cool made in Brooklyn or Queens with cool packaging, our belief is that there is going to be more of a desire to buy it.”
Additionally, people leaving New York might forget to buy something to remember the city, and instead of picking up a typical item like a small Statue of Liberty or a “I Love NY” shirt, they might be interested in Brooklyn chocolate.
“With 60 million tourists each year, now you’re starting to get more customers for these local producers.” Unter said.
If you are an interested producer or hotel, you can contact 5 Boro Goods at Hello@5borogoods.com or on Twitter at @5borogoods.