Soup Saver Scoop invention ladling enthusiasm
A unique - but extinct - spoon that stirred the entrepreneurial spirit of Akeley resident Sharon Busch is now making waves in area kitchens.
Busch's three-sided ladle, inspired by a 50-year-old family utensil, has arrived in the area marketplace.
Busch is now selling the "three-in-one" Soup Saver Scoop at St. Joseph's Area Health Services gift shop, Christmas Point in Walker and on her Web site, soupsaverscoop.com.
And in January, she'll be heading down to Minneapolis to market and demonstrate her re-invention at a trade show.
For years, the ladle had been lauded for its practicality in the Busch household. When daughter-in-law Sandy asked for one, Busch searched kitchen utensil stores and Internet sites, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, the abysmal economy at the beginning of 2009 had sparked some cost-savings measures, ultimately providing financial footing for her endeavor.
"In January I wasn't even thinking of starting a business. My challenge was - just for the fun of it - to see how much I could eek out of my budget every month and set aside, maybe even write about the challenges of getting along with less," she said.
When Sandy visited again, the scoop topic resurfaced. "That's when it really all began," Busch said.
She compiled a list of possible customers - friends, church members, former co-workers and others.
She sought advice on designing a Web site, her children taking on the role of consultants.
The retired Forest Service employee relegated her prime hobby - quilting - to a back burner.
Busch hired a company in Minneapolis to design the utensil and complete the computer-aided design (CAD). Before long - voila! - she had a prototype.
She recalls arriving at the Akeley post office to pick up the package, staring at the box on the counter, with a bit of trepidation.
"Will you open it for me?" she asked postmaster Tony Wiemann.
"I'll buy one," he told Busch as he inspected her invention, the product's first endorsement.
"It was exciting to hold my idea made real and have it work as I had imagined," she said of her Soup Saver Scoop.
She contacted U.S. manufacturers but learned they did not produce items developed outside their company or simply were not interested in a new product.
Then a neighbor, who distributes products for a plastics company, suggested that she manufacture it. Her invention was soon headed across the Pacific for production.
Now the spoon has hit the marketplace, with 750 sold to date. She demonstrates the product, which she hopes to sell in other area stores, at church events and bazaars. Her wardrobe now includes an apron with her signature implement.
Friends have questioned her taking on this avocation, post-retirement.
"It's a wonderful product and I want to share it with others," she said of her motivation.