Posted: December 15, 2020 Celebrating Food, Culture, and Fun in the Chippewa Valley
Chippewa Valley Tours | 715-225-2796
email@example.com | https://www.chippewavalleytours.com/
When you support Chippewa Valley Tours, you’re impacting more than one business. “We have six different businesses in an experience box or tour,” said Owner Nick White. Since 2017, Chippewa Valley Tours has offered experiential tours in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. With in-person tours on hold due to COVID-19, the tour company has pivoted, curating produce and product boxes this summer and fall.
White first pivoted by creating a farmers’ market delivery service, similar to a CSA box, but involving multiple farmers at the Eau Claire Farmers’ Market. Termed the “Instacart of the farmers’ market” by a friend, White hopes to grow that service next season. To expand on his offerings this year, he created two Experience Boxes—a Women-Owned Business box and an Eau Claire Food and Drink box—highlighting local businesses and their products.
The Experience Box idea originated when White saw a global food tours group creating product boxes; he thought it was a great idea for Startup Eau Claire Week, an annual event that took place in November. The boxes created for Startup Eau Claire Week sold for $15 and included products from six local businesses. When customers purchased a box, they also received a ticket to a virtual event—an interactive video call where attendees opened their boxes at home while business owners discussed the products virtually. (Watch the replays here and here.)
These phygital events, blending physical and digital components, were incredibly successful for Chippewa Valley Tours. “We started with 50 boxes and I wasn't sure if we would sell all of those,” explained White. When the event was promoted by a WEAU 13 News story, White quickly received thirty orders. “I immediately bumped [the available boxes] to 100. That sold out within three or four days. . .we bumped it to 150. It sold out again.” The event was ultimately capped at 200 boxes. Due to the event’s success, these boxes will become product offerings of Chippewa Valley Tours moving forward and should be available this holiday season.
Although White is grateful for the success of the experience boxes, he’s eager to host in-person tours again, when it’s safe to do so. The Downtown Eau Claire Food and History Tour partnered with the Chippewa Valley Museum to develop the history portion of the script to incorporate information about downtown buildings, the region, and the land itself. The tour includes seven stops: The Local Store, The Lakely, Pablo Center for the Confluence, The Informalist, The Rev, Houligans, and Ramone’s Ice Cream.
“There had been an intimidation factor [around The Lakely]. . .some of their dishes were not what normal folks would expect going out to eat. We wanted to be able to show it off,” shared White, explaining how the tour acts as a good introduction to local establishments. After taking the tour, White says guests often return to the places they visit, and check out other shops too. “We walk by Revival Records. We walk by Raggedy Man and Tangled Up in Hue. People ask, ‘What's that?’” said White, “We want to showcase not just the places we stop at, but all that Downtown Eau Claire has to offer.”
Although it may seem like tours are geared toward tour-ists, that’s not the case; About sixty percent of tickets are sold to locals. Whether you’ve previously visited a featured establishment or not, all tour guests will experience something new. The food served during the tour is often created especially for the event. Additionally, the tour provides guests with an opportunity to speak with the chefs. Each establishment talks about their dish or drink, often sharing where the ingredients are sourced from and highlighting places like Square Roots Farm.
Born and raised in the Chippewa Valley, White says he loves the local community. “I mean, it's what makes this job fun,” he said, “getting to show off our town and our restaurants.” Although he’s looking forward to 2021, and getting back to in-person tours, White says the pandemic has motivated him to think about what else Chippewa Valley Tours can do.
If you would like to support Chippewa Valley Tours, buy a gift card and watch for the product boxes to come available online. Gifting a Chippewa Valley Tour is a great experiential gift, especially for the person who doesn’t need anything!