In launch of new shop, Food52 sees cooking as the perfect mix of content and commerce

Food52, the community for experienced home cooks founded by former New York Times food columnist Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, on Tuesday launched a shop, Provisions, that sells cooking supplies, ingredients and home goods.
Retail is a natural fit for cooking, Hesser said. “There’s a natural link between what you’re cooking and what you need to cook.” A dinner party, for example, might require not just meal ideas and recipes but also “new table linen or some beer glasses or a casserole dish. It’s crazy that you’ve never been able to get all of these things” — the recipes, cooking advice and supplies — “in one place.”
Provisions launches with about 80 products — vintage jam serving spoons for $15, a Pillivuyt patisserie footed cake platter for $99, Oaktown Spice Shop ancho chile powder for $7. Food52 is working directly with all of its merchants and about a quarter of the products are exclusive to the site; some are vintage. The store groups products into “collections” around certain themes — small-batch jams or a rooftop party, for example — and will release two to three new collections a week. The collections are linked to Food52’s editorial calendar, so that a week where the site features tomato-related content would also include new tomato-related products in Provisions. Food52 is also integrating the products into its photo shoots.
Food52 is using Pinterest “scouts” to help find the products for the store. They are Food52 members and contributors “who have great style and an eye for wonderful things.” They pin finds from around the web directly to a Provisions Pinterest board, and if Food52 ends up carrying one of the items a Pinterest scout found, they send him or her the item.
A lot of content companies want to launch stores. But “this is much more integrated than a lot of companies have been able to do yet,” Hesser said. “And it just makes a lot of sense with food, because you need both information and goods.”
Food52 closed a $2 million funding round in March, bringing the total funding it’s raised to $2.75 million. The site has 650,000 subscribers and members.