Albuquerque-based WiseChoice Foods partners with Make-A-Wish, launches WishPies in Walmart

Sara Lister, the president and CEO of Make-A-Wish New Mexico, told the board how the Minnesota-based coffee company had partnered with Make-A-Wish America to create Wish Blend. For every bag sold, Caribou Coffee would donate $1 to Make-A-Wish.

“When I heard about Caribou Coffee and I started thinking about what we had capabilities for at WiseChoice Foods with our WisePies Pizza brand, it just got those wheels going,” said Chavez, who is the president of Albuquerque-based WiseChoice Foods.

The answer to that question of capability hits Walmart shelves today.

From Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, $1 of every WishPie by WisePies Pizza sold, will go toward granting wishes for Make-A-Wish recipients. A specially created cinnamon apple drizzle dessert pizza, each pizza retails for $6.98 and can be found in thousands of Walmart stores across the U.S.

“Most of the national partnerships for Make-A-Wish come out of bigger states with much larger populations,” Lister said. “… This is the first time that New Mexico will ever have a business that came forward and is doing a national partnership with Make-A-Wish. … For Season and her team to really think big and outside of just our local area means so much.”

A piece of the pie

To make that big-picture thinking possible, Chavez and her team of seven had to move quickly.

That inspirational board meeting was in January. In February, the WiseChoice team took a trip to visit their manufacturer Miracapo Pizza Co., which is located outside of Chicago.

“We brought the idea to them and said, we’d really like to do this this year. … Generally, R&D is about an 18-month process. And they loved it,” Chavez said. “They were 100% on board. They are an amazing partner and we, on the spot, figured out what we were going to move forward with.”

From there, they quickly got buy-in from Make-A-Wish’s national office. Next up, Walmart, who already sold WisePies Pizza products.

The initial ask of Walmart was WishPie placement in 5,000 stores and a commitment of 500,000 pizzas. They came back and guaranteed 3,200 stores, end cap placement and 300,000 pizzas. Chavez said they were able to land that deal in the span of two weeks.

The speed with which each piece fell into place, she said, was a true “lightning in a bottle opportunity.”

“When we have these types of national partnerships, it helps us elevate brand awareness to mission understanding,” said Flo Bryan, head of corporate alliances for Make-A-Wish. “The benefit to both is that it really enables both of us to deepen our relationship with that individual. … WisePies gets to enjoy that customer engagement and pie sales, but also deepening their relationship because that customer realizes that WisePies is supporting a cause that they care about.”

Changing the trajectory

For Chavez, granting wishes goes beyond simply wanting to give back. For her, it’s personal.

Growing up, her brother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the age of 12. Make-A-Wish, she said, changed the trajectory of his battle. As Chavez put it, “they kind of put their arms around the entire family.”

“[My brother] asked for an Apple IIGS computer. … He used that as a way to have a connection to something besides his hospital room or his bedroom at home,” Chavez said. “It gave him a positive emotional and physical impact. It changed the entire course of his medical journey because he had an outlet he didn’t have before.”

Chavez is hopeful this campaign will create that outlet for kids, not just in New Mexico, but across the country.

WiseChoice — which was founded in 2017 — wants this to be a holiday tradition. Planning has already started for 2023.

“We’re going to open this up to all retailers next year,” Chavez said. “We’re really looking to scale the visibility and availability of the WishPie into the next holiday season.”

View the full story here: https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2022/11/01/wisechoice-foods-make-a-wish-wishpies.html