Making a Gathering of Friends and Family Memorable

Making a Gathering of Friends and Family Memorable

Like much of the United States, Nevada has a rich history of immigrant families bringing their passion for food and flavor to regions unknown. This is the story of the Flocchini family, whose old-world recipes and handmade sausage techniques have been passed down over three generations and, after partnering with the Tonino family in 2015, have become a household favorite.

Made at their Carson Valley facility using only whole meat muscle and simple spices free of artificial ingredients, Flocchini Family Provisions offers one of the only clean lines of handcrafted sausage – ensuring every bite is pure taste with no filler. But a great product alone won’t lead to success, and Flocchini has had its fair share of adversity. “Our path has been bumpy, zig-zag, up and down… but [we’re] always moving forward with optimism, hard work, dedication and passion,” says Chris Flocchini, President and CEO. Low barriers to entry and finding top-tier talent to accomplish both short-term and long-term objectives of the company have been obstacles to overcome. “Convincing some amazing people to come aboard our ship… and help make our purpose come true is definitely our biggest success.”

Over four years, Flocchini Family Provisions has more than doubled its number of employees, and nearly tripled its revenue. But this didn’t happen by accident. Chris Flocchini points to the ability to be flexible as crucial in achieving your overall business strategy. “Have a really good plan A and plan B,” says Flocchini, “Be flexible on the things that you can be flexible on but don’t compromise your values.” But a business like this doesn’t reach success by flexibility and chance alone – a healthy dose of pragmatism can go a long way. Before you begin to start your entrepreneurial journey, Flocchini advises that you “make sure you are really clear about the problem you’re solving with your product or service. Just because you think it’s a great idea doesn’t mean that it is. Be prepared for that reality.”

Being a family business, Flocchini Family Provisions is all about helping others, and being a part of Made in Nevada allows them to share the wealth of knowledge and experience gained over 25 years of impassioned service. It’s this dedication and passion for helping others succeed that sets Flocchini apart. As an entrepreneur, Flocchini recommends that you “surround yourself with amazing people and put them into a position to thrive. Don’t micro-manage, but know every single detail of your business.” He’s also a proponent of maintaining your personal health as well, saying entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to take a little time to reflect on what they’re grateful for, eat well, and get consistent sleep.

With such solid leadership and a highly motivated team, it’s no wonder Flocchini Family Provisions has flourished in the business friendly state of Nevada. And in the next five years, they only plan to expand on their successes. “[In five years] We want to triple the revenue again, and have a new facility to accommodate the growth,” says Chris Flocchini, “I would like to see us in at least five major retailers and 10 sizeable restaurant chains.” If their past is any indication, Flocchini Family Provisions’ future is as bright and tasty as ever.

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The Chocolate Shoppe by Sweet Images – Sweetening the Silver State

The Chocolate Shoppe by Sweet Images – Sweetening the Silver State

In the bustling town of Gardnerville, Nevada, lies an award-winning candy shop that takes sweet treats to a whole other level. The Chocolate Shoppe story is one of struggle, determination, and evolution – a beacon to Nevada entrepreneurs that strive to carve out their own piece of the American Dream.

Lynn Falcone has always had a passion for sweets, and dreamt of one day owning her own chocolate shop. While working in New York City in the 1970’s, she was able to apprentice at several high-level bakeries and confectionaries to learn the tricks of the chocolate trade, and continued to hone her craft until 1994. That’s when fate intervened. Falcone was working with a company that, for the first time ever, was able to reproduce photo-realistic images and graphics directly onto cakes. Though the technology was at its beginning stages, Falcone instantly saw an opportunity to break into a new market. She decided to start her own company called ‘Sweet Images’, and moved the photo-reproduction business to include cookies, chocolates, Rice Krispie Treats and more, eventually moving her business online – a bold move in those days. After struggling for a few years, Sweet Images was able to attract several large photo-gift websites, including Kodak, to sell their products. Business boomed for quite a while, until technology shifted again.

The advent of cell-phones brought with it a sea change in the film industry. As digital copies became the norm, consumers no longer needed to get their photos printed, and Sweet Images biggest customers went the way of the dinosaur. Falcone refused to sell a lower-quality product, and decided to open the chocolate shop she had always dreamed of. “I had been testing and perfecting recipes for decades! It was either open the store or get a “real” job – so we did this,” said Falcone. The Chocolate Shoppe opened in 2012, and has grown into a Gardnerville staple, winning the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year and Carson Valley Business Council Retail Store of the Year in that time.

“If I could give one piece of advice to a young entrepreneur, it would be to know your customer!” Falcone says, “Your customers will help you determine the path of your business. Listen to them – they will tell you what they want!” The Chocolate Shoppe has thrived on this advice, pivoting to new products when tastes and technology change. The ability to adapt has sustained business through lean times brought on by geography and employee shortages, and joining local organizations like the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Made in Nevada have assisted in creating brand awareness. Being a Made in Nevada brand is a point of pride for Falcone and her employees. “We are very Nevada-centric here – we love our state!”, said Falcone, “Made in Nevada is always out there trying to recommend us to potential customers. Plus, having all the “Made in Nevada” signs make our customers VERY happy to see them!”

The future looks bright for The Chocolate Shoppe, but after almost 30 years of success, Lynn Falcone is ready to see it behind her. “I would love to be retired and either sell the business, or set up the employees to manage and run it,” Falcone says. Whether Falcone is there or not, the Chocolate Shoppe by Sweet Images will continue to make unique, high-quality treats for all-ages.

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Aloha Medicinals – From Surf to Sagebrush

Aloha Medicinals – From Surf to Sagebrush

By the time Aloha Medicinals arrived at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2007, they had already been cornering the medicinal mushroom market for close to a decade. Originally founded in Maui, Hawaii, in 1999 by a group of scientists and health care experts interested in growing Reishi, Cordyceps, and other medicinally important mushroom species, Aloha Medicinals sole focus lied in producing a high-quality product. They were rewarded with high demand, and within three years Aloha moved into a new facility in Santa Cruz, California.

This would turn out to be quite a fortuitous pit-stop for the young company, as the new Santa Cruz facility was once the research laboratory of mushroom pioneer Dr. Benjamin Stoller. When Aloha Medicinals moved in, not only did they gain a fully qualified staff and manufacturing equipment, but they also acquired Dr. Stoller’s original research notes. This extensive research material provided a roadmap to breakthrough patents, and a few years later Aloha Medicinals found themselves seated atop the medicinal mushroom industry. With newly increased demand, and Dr. Stoller’s notes in hand, Aloha once again picked up and relocated – this time to Carson City.

Sitting at an elevation of 5,000 ft., the air pressure and climate of Carson City proved to be ideal for cultivating the world’s most potent medicinal mushroom species. In fact, Aloha Medicinals have the world’s largest privately owned collection of medicinal mushroom species, with more than 1,000 unique specimens in their culture bank. This huge amount of product allows Aloha to supply ingredients to over 700 different companies in more than 60 countries, leading to their recognition as the “2008 Exporter of the Year” by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Not only did Carson City present a perfect climate for the production of medicinal mushrooms, it also enabled Aloha Medicinals to hire the quality employees they needed. While they had retained a highly-trained staff of Mycologists, Microbiologists and Health Care Professionals, “the workforce was a large issue in California and we found the quality of employees to be excellent in the Reno/Carson City market,” said Aloha Medicinals’ eCommerce Manager Derek Rush. The move to Nevada has been great for the company in general, as continued growth has led to increased recognition in the health foods industry. “We continue to see the use of our mushroom powders in functional food and meal replacement shake category,” said Rush of the most exciting development in Aloha’s business.

Aloha Medicinals has been taking over the world, and they have no plans to slow down anytime soon. Within five years, they plan to “expand our business and bring more of our botanical product production to the Nevada location,” said Rush. With a proven product, a world-class team, and a Silver State to call “home”, Derek Rush says success really comes down to just one thing: “Have passion for your business and the results will follow.”

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Kimmie Candy – The Taste of Sweet Success

Kimmie Candy – The Taste of Sweet Success

Joe Dutra’s transition from third-generation Sacramento farmer to international candy tycoon might seem like a long-shot at first glance, but once you get to know him, it seems like a logical course of events. “It started out as a single business deal buying some candy that was stuck in an Oakland port,” Dutra says of his humble beginnings, “I purchased 40,000lbs… and a friend of mine was going to sell them for me.” But when that friend couldn’t hold up his end of the deal, Dutra began reading every book about the candy industry that he could find, and decided to start his own company. “I learned that the candy industry was recession proof, grew every year, had good morals, and there were lots of family-run businesses. I thought it was a great legacy to leave my children.”

That first purchase of 40,000lbs of candy coated, chocolate-covered sunflower kernels was the inspiration for Kimmie Candy’s now famous Sunburst Candy, and in just three short years, they had won the prestigious “Product of the Year” award at the annual Candy Grammys for their equally famous ChocoRocks. With the goal of creating more American jobs, Dutra relocated the business to Reno in 2005, and within a few years their state-of-the-art production facility was fully operational. International expansion didn’t take long after that, with distribution to Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, South America, and the Middle East.

While Kimmie Candy’s rise to the top might seem like a magical straight-shot, Dutra is quick to talk about challenges the company has faced. “Over the years we made lots of mistakes, like hiring the wrong people for our culture or developing product lines that were difficult to market,” he says of Kimmie Candy’s past struggles. “As an entrepreneur, you have lots of amazing ideas, and you fantasize about all the potential and glory in starting a business. But after a while, it just gets down to good business practices.” Those good business practices have led to continual growth, with Kimmie Candy quadrupling its number of employees over the last 10 years.

After moving operations to Nevada almost 15 years ago, Kimmie Candy joined statewide marketing cooperative Made in Nevada to be “a part of the Nevada community and its growing economy”, and, in that regard, they continue to be a leader. In 2016, Kimmie Candy was selected to represent Nevada at the first ever ‘Made in America Day’ at the White House, something that Dutra views as their biggest success. “Being able to meet the President of the United States, have him eat Nevada made candy and be able to spend the whole day in the White House was amazing,“ said Dutra, “Everything we had done before that led up to us being chosen to represent our state.”

Kimmie Candy has no plans to roll back their candy takeover. They’re currently developing a new “M&M type product” which will be infused with supplements and nutritional enhancements, as well as CBD – “as it becomes legal to use in food.” In five years, Dutra hopes to have a new, state-of-the-art, 100,000 square-foot manufacturing plant right here in the Silver State to expand Kimmie’s national sales. Whatever the future holds for Kimmie Candy, it’s guaranteed to be sweet.

Visit to get some of this chocolatey goodness into your life!

Alpen Sierra Coffee – “Maintain high standards – always”

Alpen Sierra Coffee – “Maintain high standards – always”

Before the major coffee companies began popping up on every corner, there were young, adventurous travelers scouring the globe for the newest flavor, a more unique aroma, and the next great coffee bean. One of those young adventurers was Christian Waskiewicz, who began a year-long, trans-European excursion while finishing his college degree in the late 1980s. While trekking through the Austrian Alps, Waskiewicz had a complete vision of his future company and spent the next year visiting coffeehouses throughout Vienna, Hamburg, Stockholm and Paris, learning the intricacies and techniques of the world’s best coffee producers.

Upon returning to the U.S., Waskiewicz founded Alpen Sierra Coffee in South Lake Tahoe in 1991. But after struggling with an influx of corporate competition and a sagging economy, he decided to relocate to Minden, NV. “Having the flexibility to constantly adapt to changes means making tough decisions when the current direction is not working. [That’s the] key to not only surviving, but thriving,” said Waskiewicz. Paying attention to market factors and business trends has allowed Waskiewicz to build a business that has thrived for nearly 30 years.

Pairing business management adaptability with a commitment to quality – in products and processes – has solidified Alpen Sierra’s reputation as a trusted partner for customers and producers. For Waskiewicz, this commitment to quality is not just about pouring a good cup of coffee, it’s about producing a quality end product while also maintaining sustainable and responsible business practices. Since inception, Alpen Sierra has been an early adopter of green technologies and pursued a sustainability certifications from programs including Fair Trade, The Rainforest Alliance, and the Café Femenino Program. Delivering delicious coffee through responsible business practices is what Waskiewicz calls “true quality” and something he works every day to maintain and advance. “Alpen Sierra practices wholehearted sustainability in all facets of its business,” Waskiewicz said, “[Our] reputation for unwavering quality, not only with local customers, but globally with coffee producers, has contributed to the company’s 28 successful years in business.”

Alpen Sierra’s rise has been deliberate and calculated, but hasn’t been obstacle free. The move from South Lake Tahoe to Minden didn’t solve every problem, as seasonal business fluctuation, staffing challenges, and large corporate competitors keep the Alpen Sierra team continually working smarter and harder. Joining statewide marketing cooperative Made in Nevada is one way they’ve expanded their brand awareness and connected with a broad range of Nevada businesses in similar situations. With a goal to expand market penetration deeper into the state and surrounding region, they recognize Made in Nevada has “helped open up markets and new clients, identified Alpen Sierra as a local producer, and added value to the brand.”

From college-backpacker to “Coffee Master”, Christian Waskiewicz is proof that hard work and consistency can lead to great things. His one piece of advice for young entrepreneurs: “maintain high standards – always. That means plan smart, work hard and be fair, honest, respectful, and conduct yourself with the utmost integrity.”

Hunt for your new favorite bean with an Alpen Sierra “Taste of Tahoe” subscription. Or take your coffee anywhere with their new “Pour and Explore” product line – all you need is your favorite cup and some hot water! Find out more at

FISHER SPACE PEN – Made in Nevada, Out of This World

FISHER SPACE PEN – Made in Nevada, Out of This World

50 years ago this month, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon. Their 2 hour and 36 minute moonwalk was made possible due to thousands of hours of preparation and training by multiple teams of people – and upheld President Kennedy’s 1961 pledge to land a man on the Moon before the decade was out.

One of the men who contributed to this incredible achievement was Paul Fisher, founder of Fisher Pen Company. When he started the company in 1948, he didn’t know he would be part of one of the most memorable moments of the 20th century or that he would transform ink pen manufacturing forever. But after the Apollo 1 tragedy, Fisher realized that future astronauts would need a safe and functional writing instrument in the harsh environment of space. He began experimenting right away, and soon the Fisher Space Pen was born.

Used on all manned space flights (US and Russian) since Apollo 7, Fisher Space Pen has become legendary for its reliability, durability, and functionality. It was the first product sold from space (on QVC), featured on the Discovery Channel’s ‘How It’s Made’ series, and even made an appearance on a famous episode of ‘Seinfeld’. And despite its fame around the world (and beyond), the Fisher Space Pen is most lauded in its hometown of Boulder City, NV.

Nevada has always been a business-friendly state, and when Fisher Space Pen moved from Van Nuys, CA, to Boulder City in 1976, it only took four years for Paul Fisher to be recognized as Nevada’s “Small Business Person of the Year”. Their Silver State ties run deep, and Matt Fisher, VP of Sales and Paul Fisher’s grandson, is most proud of this fact: “To continue my grandfather’s legacy in my home state [of Nevada] is truly an honor.”

With approximately 65 employees, the feeling of a small business keeps Fisher Space Pen reaching for the stars – or more realistically – for Mars. “We’re still a few more years from reaching [Mars] so I’d like to see our Astronauts, once again, take us to the Moon,” said Fisher. Fisher Space Pen will be representing Nevada at the White House Made in America Showcase on July 15th.

Fisher Space Pen has been a long-time member and supporter of Made in Nevada, and credits the statewide marketing-cooperative with introducing new dealers to the Fisher brand. Taking advantage of every opportunity is how Fisher Space Pen has grown into the massive brand it is today. When asked what advice Matt Fisher has for upcoming Nevada entrepreneurs, he says simply “work hard, continue educating yourself, and never take any opportunity for granted.”

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