Albertans Brett and Janet Annable bought their 10-acre apple orchard in Summerland, BC in the beautiful Okanagan, in 2016. After a few years when they decided to start the cidery, it practically named itself. After all, this site had a history too compelling to ignore. “In the early 1900s, Lord Shaughnessy, the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, came to Summerland,” explains Brett. “He saw the potential to grow fruit and ship it by train.” Where the cidery is located was known as Millionaires’ Row.” Brett explained that the businessmen of Millionaires’ Row were as widely known in those days as Kevin O’Leary is today.
For Brett and Janet this historic story was inspiring. The orchard they bought happened to be the former property of another Albertan who’d come to Summerland in 1916. The orchard was owned by that same family for a century when the Annable’s purchased it. “Our family, the family that owned this land previously, and these original entrepreneurs…the word that connects us all is ‘opportunity’. These wealthy, influential men created opportunities that keep coming to this day. Our family, also, has the privilege now of creating opportunities for others through our cidery.”
But every success story needs its quota of challenges, and the Annables have had more than their share. They opened, after all, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was naturally difficult to figure out how to launch their business, but eventually they landed on an approach that worked. They simply tailored their efforts and expectations to the reality they were operating in. “Business is always a bit of luck and a bit of timing,” says Brett. “Because we were just starting out, we started small. We had a limited stock that we had no problem selling out.” Brett believes this year’s cautious expansion plan will also prove successful.
Of course, Millionaires’ Row Cider had a strong advantage coming out the gate: a fascinating brand. It was the Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC)’s privilege to support its full expression, with a corrugated four-bottle carrier designed to look like a briefcase and a striking gold label for their bottles. “Branding is always a bit of guesswork,” says Brett, “and we’re so grateful GLBC was able to refine our ideas. For example, we wanted gold labels, and when we saw what you produced, it was a bit more subdued than what we expected. But people love the label because it hits the right note of classiness. Our branding, including the labels, really has a theme now.
“As the entrepreneurs, we had ideas. With GLBC’s support, those ideas worked out better than we’d planned.” Having weathered nearly a year and a half of operating under conditions of a pandemic, the Annables are feeling optimistic about the future. They’re planning new seasonal products that tell more of the story of Millionaires’ Row and the train that defined it. “You get this far, and you think: I didn’t expect this. We are grateful.”
So are we. Whenever we get to collaborate on a brand with so much history and personality, it just brings out the best in our team. Cheers to Millionaires’ Row!