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Palouse Company Weathers Covid Crisis With Help From Amazon

Courtesy of Sara Mader

While Covid has wreaked havoc with many businesses across the country, some companies that have teamed up with Amazon are seeing their businesses flourish. That is definitely the case with one Palouse grain grower.


Sara Mader's family has grown wheat, lentils, peas and chickpeas for several generations outside Palouse, Washington.


About 10 years ago, it began to offer retail sales online, in addition to its traditional way of selling products through grain companies. It partnered with Amazon using the trade name Palouse Brand.

Credit Courtesy of Sara Mader
The Mader family has grown wheat, lentils, peas and chickpeas for several generations outside Palouse, Washington.


Initially the family shipped products from its Palouse warehouse, but eventually went to a fulfillment center arrangement where Amazon took over the actual delivery as well.


“Our sales doubled month over month, and continued on a long trajectory of doubling,” Sara Mader said.


Then, when the coronavirus hit, Palouse Brand sales exploded.


“During Covid we were doing the numbers we used to do in one month in one day,” she said. “We brought in over 100 people between February and March as people were losing their jobs to help us in the warehouse. Six weeks of our inventory on Amazon was selling out in four hours.”


Mader says it's likely the increase was due to people not wanting to visit stores in person. The family was able to continue to provide products without interruption because the Palouse Brand bins were full, the result of the agricultural trade embargo of the last year. She says while the online sales had traditionally accounted for about 10% of the family’s total sales, that number is now closer to 50%.


Mader adds that, while it pays Amazon a hefty commission, it has also been getting a hefty return.


Now, she says the family is now working on a new project to bring in other agricultural producers who want to move to sales online through Amazon.

Anyone interested in checking out that new project can visit clearcreekfarmer.com.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.