The success of Better Than Provisions
“It’s about doing that little thing and making it a habit.”
In 1998, the group Morcheeba had a hit song called “Part of the Process” with cooing lyrics:
“It’s all part of the process / We all like to look down / All we want is a little success / But the luck is never there.”
Life is just one big process, isn’t it? Growing, learning, experiencing and, for many of us, healing.
It was a healing process that led to the idea of Better than provisions, a husband-and-wife granola operation based in Tucson. Their process, both personal and professional, takes this chance to despise some success.
April and Earl King met through a mutual friend in Austin, Texas. Earl had been living and working in Austin for a few years, but April, originally from Wisconsin, moved there for personal and health reasons. Suffering from chronic pain caused by stress, the more temperate weather in Central Texas was much more forgiving to April’s muscles and joints. Plus, Austin is also a really cool city.
“I got very sick, so I turned to holistic healing and became very passionate,” April said as we hung out at their curator on Stone Avenue. “Holistic health is much easier to identify in a city like Austin. It was a process, but I started to heal and feel better.
Things got even better when she met her future husband. However, the humidity in Texas caused a lot of unwanted mold and her pain, as well as her allergies, started to swell. Thanks to another mutual friend, a suggestion to go dry and the very holistic Tucson made its way to the Kings. So they packed up and have been happy residents of Old Pueblo ever since.
Once here, Tucson’s weather and food helped April heal – especially the food. Being a Midwestern girl, it was really hard for her to find healthy, organic food that was good for both the gut and the soul. The snacks, on the other hand, were not so easy to locate. Most over-the-counter, “healthy” snack foods were either packed with sugar or just didn’t taste very good. Luckily, April and Earl stumbled upon keto which started to set their future plans in motion.
“It was actually really good and it wasn’t full of junk ingredients,” April said. “I took this recipe, made a few changes, and started making our own granola.”
Living a healthy, lively lifestyle in a city that’s lauded for its cycling culture, trails, and general “get out” attitude (at least October through June), the Kings developed a five-nut combination. It contained only a few tasty components for their regular treks over hills, mountains, and dusty desert paths.
This recipe was so delicious and beneficial that they started sharing it with friends, who in turn started asking to source it themselves. Between the demand in their immediate surroundings and people freaking out when they bring their granola to parties, the two saw something they had never seen before.
Maybe there’s something more to this granola than just a healthy, delicious bite for them and their pals.
“It was obvious people wanted something tasty and nutritious that just wasn’t on the market,” Earl said. “We then asked ourselves: ‘what is it costing us?’ I then went to the store with pen and paper and started to figure it all out.
Almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans along with pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, oil, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt. build up, both financially and manufacturing-wise, and that’s when April and Earl got to work.
April had a relationship with Heritage Farmers Markets because she once worked at a stand with a friend selling sauerkraut based in Phoenix. It’s yet another contact who pushed some products aside so April and Earl could sell their now bagged granola on the corner of his table in late 2018.
It went much better than expected.
“Our first name for granola was called ‘April’s Small Batch Better Than Granola,'” laughs April. “Yeah, that was a little long. We then went with just ‘Better Than Granola’ but, after having a lawyer execute it, he said we really couldn’t drop granola. That’s when that ‘Better Than Provisions’ appeared.
The term “layouts” was ideal because it allowed them to make other products if they wanted to, which is, well, what they wanted to do. With a secure brand name and growing demand for their product, it was then time for the Kings to see if they could take it to the next level.
The first marketplace to offer Better Than Provisions was Food conspiracy cooperative on Fourth Avenue, and thanks to them, they were educated on what it really meant to be in the health food retail business.
“They told us we needed a barcode, and we were like ‘what is a barcode?'” laughs Earl. “The co-op taught us a lot about what it means to be on the shelf. It also got us thinking about who Better Than Provisions is.
With the cinnamon and vanilla variety a hit, April and Earl set to work on more product options. When fall arrived, they concocted the ubiquitous pumpkin spice, but added apple to add not only more flavor, but additional victuals to the vittles. They also wanted a spicy variety and came up with a combination of cayenne, cocoa and goji berries.
“There was only one little spicy granola mix back then and it was awful,” Earl said. “April literally nailed the Cayenne recipe on the first or second try. It’s still my favorite.
With three flavor options to choose from, a concept that was growing in popularity, a secure chalet license, and getting that barcode on their bags, the time to take over the granola empire was upon April and Earl. .
Their market reach in Tucson now includes Flora Market Race and Food Bodega Gallery with others starting to make room on the shelves. Coffee Ren at St. Phillips Plaza not only offers Better Than Provisions, but uses their granola to top their delicious parfaits.
Airbnbs in Tucson offer their granola in the rooms. The Joshua Tree House and the Clifton Town Center Hotel keep bowls of all three flavors in their bars and suites. More recently, they are in the early stages of closing a deal with Flores Concepts to bring them in Charro neighborhood and Monique. Not to mention all of the Heirloom Farmers Markets from Oro Valley to Green Valley, plus co-op outfits in Mesa and Gilbert.
Can’t get to any of the local markets and maybe a spa-like hostel isn’t your thing? Simply connect to the largest shopping platform in the universe.
“We are now on Amazon,” they said.
Search Better Than Provisions, hit the “buy now” button, and in a few days (or sometimes hours), some of the best granola on Earth – made right here in Tucson – will arrive at your doorstep.
Not too shabby for a couple who just wanted a tasty snack full of health benefits.
On a personal note, my story with Better Than Provisions started a few years ago.
I sampled their vanilla and cinnamon variety at a neighborhood store and wondered why they would make me try something that is obviously found in big box stores. In other words, the packaging was so precise and professional – had to be done in a factory.
The nice person who ran the registry informed me that it was a new small business run by a local team of husband and wife. She takes care of all the baking and he takes care of the logistics.
Then I ate the granola.
There was no way something so good could be made with just a few ingredients, GMO-free, grain-free, and produced in a small commissary near downtown. It was so delicious that I bought one of each of their products. Healthy and delicious and made here in Tucson? Sold.
I’m a big fan of Better Than Provisions. If you’re not as good, you will be soon after reading this, at the weekly market or on Amazon of all places.
“It’s about doing that little thing and making it a habit,” April said. “I’m just a little better than yesterday. The medical community offers a quick fix. You don’t get a cure; you get a bandage. Healing within holistic is slower because your cells heal and detox. It takes time and it’s good to take it one step at a time. With Better Than Provisions, you may not be keto or vegan, but do you like tasty food? Eat something that makes you feel like you’re eating something indulgent, but it’s also good for you, that’s what it and U.S are all about.