Brenda and Randy Mace spiced up their lives when they started selling homemade barbecue sauce at outdoor markets this past summer.
Since Brenda’s secret sauce debuted in July, the Davenport, Wash., couple has reinvented the meaning of togetherness while preparing and labeling more than 1,300 bottles of product featuring varying degrees of spiciness.
“We’ve always been a good team,” said Randy Mace as he lined up sterilized bottles and filled them with piping hot sauce, several 12-ounce bottles at a time.
In a few short months, B&R Creations have tripled their sales of BJ’s All American Home Style B.B.Q. Sauce.
Eager customers line up at markets in Spokane, Cheney and Moses Lake to purchase single bottles for $4 each and cases of 12 at a discount.
The sauce is also being sold through Humble Earth Natural Market across from Shadle Park High School on Oak Street and is entering the smoker section at Empire Pools & Beachcomber Hot Tubs on North Division. It will soon be offered through a bookstore in Cheney and is being taste-tasted for the Buckhorn Inn at Airway Heights.
“It’s actually taking off faster than we anticipated,” said Brenda Mace, 59.
Working together is no new thing for the Maces, who arrived in Davenport in 1997, after Randy retired as a Gunnery Sergeant from the U.S. Marine Corps.
Davenport is about 35 miles west of Spokane and since moving there the Maces have worked together at Lincoln Hospital and at Eastern State Hospital, where Randy is still employed as a security attendant.
Brenda Mace had operated a ceramic shop in California. In Davenport, she made and sold soaps, body butter and bath salts. But Randy, 49, thought his wife’s talents were better spent making and marketing her recipes.
“He kept bugging me about this barbecue sauce. He said, ‘Hon, you need to put your barbecue sauce on the market,’ ” she recalled.
But Brenda was reluctant to sell her sauce because a good friend in Davenport sold a similar hand-bottled product at community events, under the label of AJ’s. They eventually bought out their pal’s business, combined recipes and improvised from there.
“You add a little bit of this. You add a little bit of that,” she said, admitting the toughest part initially was getting measurements down so her husband could make the sauce during his off-time.
The mom-and-pop entrepreneurs don’t own a facility with a commercial kitchen so they rent suitable cooking space inside Davenport’s community center. Sauces are made with fresh products, including organic spices purchased through The Fresh Spice Market, a Rathdrum, Idaho-based business. Flavors include regular, spicy garlic, onion and hot, along with hot-hot and sizzler.
Inspired by a close friend with diabetes, Mace even created a sauce sweetened with Splenda, a sugar substitute.
“It’s wonderful, you don’t even get the aftertaste,” said Nancy Edmiston, Mace’s 70-year-old friend.
She credits another friend, Terri Fowler, with encouraging her to join the outdoor markets and the success that has sparked.
Now she’s branching out with preserves and the company’s Web site ( www.bandrcreations.net) is under construction.
While the couple is hoping to keep their business based in Davenport, the continued growth may soon have them shopping around for a bigger kitchen.
“I’m not trying to go commercial with chain stores right now,” Brenda Mace said, although admitting it could be a possibility.
“Right now we’re trying to keep it in hometown stores where people can buy it and for special orders.”