Virus response: Red Stick Spice turns to live videos to keep business cooking

Red Stick Spice owner Anne Milneck

Red Stick Spice Company has launched a handful of new services and products this month to keep Baton Rouge in the kitchen. 

With so many people turning to their home kitchens in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, Red Stick Spice owner Anne Milneck says nothing was off the table when she and her team started brainstorming ideas. 

In less than a month, they’ve launched daily online cooking classes, a hyper-local delivery service, plan to release six new products this week, and hope to reopen their tea service for curbside customers. All are the result of “making use of what’s available,” Milneck says—much in the same way home cooks are utilizing their pantry stockpiles. 

“I was in that space of spinning out, of I don’t know what to do, but I do know what to do; I know how to teach cooking classes,” Milneck says. 

So she did, getting out of her comfort zone and launching daily classes on Facebook live for hundreds of viewers. 

“My son has a chronic disease, so we had been having frank conversations with his doctor. He stopped going to class at LSU a while ago,” Milneck says. “I saw where we were headed, and I knew an in-person class was not appropriate.” 

Despite the fact her husband owns a local digital effects company, Milneck jokes that she’s never taken a selfie in her life. The live nature of the videos meant there’d be an occasional cat walking in the room or any number of unscripted events, leading her to be raw and vulnerable.

“We needed to continue to connect with customers, and for me, it makes me get up and get dressed,” she says. 

The online classes have been a success, with viewers sending in pictures of their finished dishes, proving they’re not just watching but also following along and learning, she says. And customers are shopping online to buy the ingredients from her recipes. 

Though they are literally giving away their content for free, they’re getting back a lot of value, she says. 

“That’s the kind of content people want right now,” Milneck says. “They also want to know that we’re all struggling to find bread and yeast.” 

The nature of the videos is to adapt recipes to what’s available in your pantry or stores, she says. 

Milneck plans to continue the videos, but they’ll likely move away from the live model to in-house productions that will live on the store’s website and social media pages. 

Red Stick launched a local delivery service using the Gotcha electric bikes and scooters for the neighborhoods surrounding her store. Milneck plans to continue the service after the pandemic ends. 

She says there’s a noticeable spike in local delivery orders around 3 p.m., as customers start thinking about dinner. 

The new efforts—particularly the Gotcha bikes—have also helped boost the morale of staff, whom she’s been able to keep busy and on the payroll through the new initiatives. 

Read more stories on how the coronavirus is impacting the Baton Rouge business community.

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