JACKSON TWP. When it comes to pitching a product, nothing beats the "live-in-person" approach. If you have a hit reality TV show and an equally popular line of wines and margarita mixes, this applies even when the weather in Ohio takes a remarkably sudden October dip.
"We are fans of hers and we shop at Beuhler’s and heard about the meet-and-greet," said Canton resident, Jenna Tornabene as she and her friends shivered in line outside Buehler’s Fresh Foods’ Nobles Pond location, which played host to author, chef, TV star and Skinnygirl founder Bethenny Frankel on Oct. 22. "I just like how she tells it like it is."
Frankel is the creator of the low-calorie cocktail brand, Skinnygirl Cocktails, which now features more than 20 products, including vodka, wine and ready-to-serve options.
Prior to debuting her drink line, Frankel was a cast member on NBC’s The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, and later, Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City.
Forbes Magazine has her one of the "Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities."
The estimated 400-plus attendees at the Jackson Township event had a positive effect on neighboring businesses as well.
"I think it’s great to get this many people out and to get the whole community involved," said Fady Abdlrasul, a pharmacist at Ritzman Pharmacy.
Buehler’s Communications Director Deb Wilcox said Ohio as a whole – and Beuhler’s in particular - is a strong market for Frankel. As a nascent entrepreneur in 2014, Frankel visited the Buehler’s store in Wooster. Being time again to reach out to her fans with the introduction of her latest product, Watermelon Margarita, Wilcox said Buehler’s was once again an obvious choice for Frankel.
Complimentary tastings of select Skinnygirl Cocktails products were available Oct. 22, as Frankel chatted with fans and signed bottles of Skinnygirl ready-to-drink White Peach Margarita, Grapefruit Margarita, Cranberry Cosmo and the new Watermelon Margarita; along with her Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, California Red and California White wine varieties.
"It’s a strong product that is very recognized among women," Wilcox said. "She developed this brand because she felt there was a void in the market for cocktails that are low in calories."
Indeed, Frankel’s Jackson Township crowd was decidedly female, but Buehler’s Executive Chef Mike Merritt said such events are great for bringing awareness to the store itself.
"My goal is to let people know about our food," Merritt said as he and his staff manned three taco stands, specially catered for the margarita-themed event. "We make things fresh and not a lot of people can say that. And with this, people who may not know about Buehler’s get to see the store and how nice and clean it is."
That is, with most at the Frankel appearance, after they had the chance to meet their television hero, however.
"I wanted to just hug her," Lauren Clark gushed, clutching her signed bottle of Skinny Girl Margarita. "I just love Bethenny and nothing like this ever happens here."
Her friend, Katie Sedon, said that she also likes the fact that all Frankel’s products – which include snacks, sweeteners and water enhancers, lunch meats, and non-alcoholic beverages, are healthy.
Marybeth Bajornas came to the Frankel appearance with Sedon and Clark.
"As a business owner, I don’t just follow her for the food, but her business as well," Bajornas said. "She is a business mogul."
Judging from the sweat dripping from the brows of the representatives from Skinnygirl distributor, Southern Glazers, as they stood in the midst of the chilly but happy throng, hurriedly pulling bottles of Skinny Girl from cases and passing them among the faithful, business seems to be very good for Frankel.