Come for the rhubarb pie – stay for the rhubarb mojitos.
That’s the new approach Sumner merchants are taking to cement the city’s status as The Rhubarb Pie Capital of the World.
Sumner businesses are offering new varieties of rhubarb-themed paraphernalia and foods to boost the city’s rhubarb reputation, which comes from its historic standing as a top rhubarb producer.
To start, local restaurants are expanding their rhubarb repertoire beyond the traditional rhubarb pie to include rhubarb mojitos, rhubarb vinaigrette salads and meat dishes accented with rhubarb chutney or a rhubarb reduction.
Meanwhile, retailers are stocking their shelves with items like rhubarb recipe books, antique rhubarb crate labels and even pewter rhubarb charms.
Shelly Schlumpf, executive director of the Sumner Downtown Association, said the goal is for as many downtown businesses as possible to carry rhubarb or rhubarb-pie oriented products.
“People are actually coming and looking for rhubarb things to buy,” Schlumpf said. “We want people to be able take away a memento, something tangible, that says they’ve visited the Rhubarb Pie Capital … It really is about economic development.”
Retailers shared their rhubarb revelations Tuesday at Sumner’s first-ever Merchant Rhubarb Festival.
While sipping sample rhubarb mojitos served up by The Silo, a Sumner bar and restaurant, business people mulled over what they could do to promote Sumner’s signature produce and pastry.
As the merchants sampled rhubarb delicacies, Tammy Blount, president and CEO of the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau, gave them a presentation about the importance of destination marketing.
Themed merchandise can help cities develop an identity, or brand, that draws visitors, she said.
“It’s about what they can take home,” Blount said.
Already in Sumner, the rhubarb offerings are increasing.
A Good Book bookstore is stocking its shelves with “The Joy of Rhubarb,” an all-rhubarb recipe book. So far, the book has been extremely popular, said store employee Joy Venton. “We can’t keep it in the store – it’s awesome,” Venton said.
Coming up, local bead shop Blue Iris Beads soon plans to sell rhubarb pie charms for bookmarks and charm bracelets, shop owner Kathi Gard said.
Melissa Santos: 253-552-7058 firstname.lastname@example.org