- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Northeastsnacks.com, a local online based business, is giving former residents an avenue to obtain their favorite hometown snacks.

Albert Martino, a Back Mountain native, experienced the loss of his favorite snack foods first hand when he moved to Arizona. Classifying himself as a chip muncher, he could not find a product with a similar taste or crunch-ability as Middleswarth.

The internet entrepreneur launched his newest e-commerce endeavor on Sept. 1, selling a wide variety of flavors and sizes of Middleswarth Chips, Tastykakes, Revellos’ Old Forge style pizza, and confectionery products from Sugar Plum which are not available on store shelves outside of the state.

Martino, 30, of Shavertown earned his first Internet marketing dollar at age 15. He has an overall goal to build a virtual convenience store, based around a selection of Pennsylvania-made food items. He currently is working to add Nardone Brothers’ Pizza, piergogies, and products from a local bakery.

“It takes a lot of phone calls and handshakes,” Martino said. “The businesses have been very helpful. Everyone wins.”

The response by consumers has been favorable.

“The first sale was made after two hours of launching northeastsnacks.com,” he said. “I have passed the 100 order mark long ago.”

Coinciding the website start with football season was a happy coincidence. Martino said he had a “decent amount of people” ordering hometown favorite snacks to watch their home state teams play.

“I had one order, requesting I include a handwritten note saying, ‘Enjoy the Dodgers game in NEPA fashion’,” he said. “It was from a dad to his son.”

He has received requests to ship out Yuengling, but due to drinking age requirements and varying state laws on the distribution of alcoholic beverages across state line that is not possible.

Martino said he has sent products to Maine, California, Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii to name a few. He is able to send to military APO addresses.

Shipping costs have created a hurdle and he is actively seeking ways to soften this sticker shock for customers. Shipping three trays of Revellos’ pizza, 12 slices per tray, costs about $85. The pizza itself costs $45.

“Some shipping rates are up toward $100,” he said.

As an online shopper, Martino admits he does not like to pay shipping fees either, so in some cases, he winds up eating a portion of the shipping costs.

“I am researching other shipping carriers for the best price,” he said. “I do not make anything on the shipping charges.

But a love of comfort food and childhood favorites seems to outweigh the costs for many shoppers.

“We have sent out 30 orders this week,” Martino said.

In future plans, Martino said he is working to design “packs” similar to his party pack, consisting of two Tastykake Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes; one Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets; one, 10 ounce, Middleswarth BBQ Weekender bag; two, 2.12 ounce, Middleswarth BBQ bags; and one, 2.12 ounce, Middleswarth Plain bag.

He also is developing a Halloween pack, a birthday party pack, and a holiday pack.

Right now the online business is strictly a one-man show, but with the anticipation of a holiday rush, Martino said he may hire a part-time employee to help.

“I did not really think it would grow this fast and this steady,” Martino said.





Information from: Times Leader, https://www.timesleader.com

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