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How Philip Given’s latest pivot helped save his pretzel business

How Philip Given’s latest pivot helped save his pretzel business

  • When the pandemic struck, Philip Given, partner at The Pretzel Company, helped his business make a vital shift online.
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Philip Given rattles off his untraditional résumé: hotels, restaurants, photography, small business consulting, city government.

They all share a critical business skill, he says, one he’s honed over the course of his winding entrepreneurial journey: thinking about the customer’s point of view at every interaction.

That always-shifting mindset helped The Pretzel Company, formerly known as York City Pretzel Company, survive a pandemic that otherwise might have shuttered the business he started in 2014 with four other partners.

“We were very fortunate to have had the foresight and ability to pivot,” Philip says today.

Famous PA recipe

Prior to the pandemic, the company’s operation was mostly wholesale. “If you had a bar or restaurant and didn’t have a pretzel on your menu,” Philip says, “we wanted you to have our pretzel.”

But as many of those businesses closed their doors in 2020 – including York City Pretzel’s storefront – the soft pretzels that once showed up on menus around the region were no longer in demand.

After a three-year stint serving in York City’s government, Philip says he knew he needed to return to the business in a full-time capacity.

In July 2020, Philip and his partners launched The Pretzel Company brand and officially opened their e-commerce store, thepretzelcompany.com, offering their six-ingredient, hand-rolled pretzels by the box to the 48 continental states.

“That recipe that we’re famous for in Central PA really resonated across the country,” Philip says.

So much so, he says, that The Pretzel Company sold 1 million pretzels in online orders in 2021. 

One million and growing

With a clear vision pressing ahead, Philip is hoping to see 2 million pretzels go out the door this year.

He’s also planning to continue to expand the number of employees. The company currently employs 12 people, but he hopes to soon add more while continually growing wages and building long-term relationships. 

“Our company philosophy is to make one thing better per week,” Philip says. “If they see it can be done better, we want them to bring us solutions.”

As the business continues to grow, Philip says he still gets daily calls from locals wondering when they can just swing by and pick up a single pretzel.

While the shift to e-commerce has been all-encompassing, he says, it’s a future pivot he hasn’t ruled out: “We’re working on that.”

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