Great Ideas for your Small Business:
Reinvent Yourself (WALLY AMOS)
On march 10, 1975, at 7181 sunset boulevard in Hollywood, Wally Amos, showbiz talent manager, became Famous Amos, the Cookie Man. Using his Aunt Della’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, Amos sold deluxe cookies for the unheard of price of $3 a pound.
Celebrities and locals alike lined up to buy Famous Amos cookies. Sales skyrocketed. Media attention drove sales as he increased production to keep up with demand.
But the initial success wasn’t enough to keep the company in Amos’s hands. Looking back, Amos sees clearly why he lost control of the company ten years later. “I was irresponsible in the management. I really wasn’t focused on the core business. I was doing audiocassette tapes, television shows, and I was focused on getting into a movie,” he admitted.
After going through four management changes from 1985 to 1988, his original venture was eventually acquired by a Taiwanese food conglomerate, which still sells cookies under the Famous Amos brand.
Because he was the living brand and image of the cookie company, the new owners sued Amos to keep him out of the cookie business. He went to court and eventually won the right to use his name for other ventures, including a line of dolls named Chip and Cookie.
Although he can’t bake cookies, Amos and his partner, Lou Avignone, are back in the baking business under the brand “Uncle Wally.” They sell fat-free and sugar-free muffins baked in Bohemia, New York. “Now, I’m the muffin man,” laughs Amos. “I didn’t plan it. Circumstances created it. And you have to go with what works…. I believe if you have an idea and focus on achieving your goal, your whole energy is focused on doing it, and ideas just come to you.”
He is determined to avoid making the same mistakes he made twenty years ago. He says he finally has a great management team that keeps him busy with marketing and pro- motion. “You never know what the hell is going to happen. Life is unpredictable, yet we spend much of our time trying to predict it. I have no regrets. I’m still feeling good. And for Uncle Wally, the future looks fantastic.”