Fran Pritchard remembers 15 years ago when she was selling salsa out of a gas station.
"My first day of business was during Super Bowl Sunday," she said. "I was working at the old Chevron in Minden, and the owners let me give customers samples of my salsa. I sold 14 pints that day."
Pritchard is celebrating her company's 15 years of operation. She started Killer Salsa in 1993 after moving from San Jose to Carson Valley.
"My husband retired, and we needed some supplemental income," she said.
She's been making the homemade salsa for 25 years. Her children didn't like vegetables, so she used to sneak all sorts of veggies into other types of food.
"That's why there are carrots in my salsa," she said. "That's what gives it that sweet taste."
After selling 14 pints at the Chevron, Pritchard began selling her product to mini-marts and gas stations. In 1994, she decided to go for the big bucks.
"I was driving by the headquarters of Scolari's in Sparks and decided what the heck."
Pritchard said she went into Scolari's main office with a pint of her salsa, a bag of chips and a business card.
"I walked right in, and the receptionist told me I needed an appointment. But luckily, the gentlemen I needed to talk to was done with appointments for the day, and she told me to go right in. I didn't have a presentation. He tasted it and said he'd go for it."
Fifteen years later, Pritchard is selling her product in every grocery store chain in the Reno-Tahoe area. In 2000, she decided to expand her business beyond fresh salsa and created six shelf-stable blends, sealed in glass jars, capable of being shipped long distances. She sells her salsa to California and even ships orders as far away as New York and Massachusetts. She also sells her salsa by the gallon to restaurants in Lake Tahoe casinos.
"It's been an incredible adventure," she said. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Killer Salsa is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a party from 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 2 at their factory location, 1425-C Industrial Way in Gardnerville. Chips and salsa will be served. Call (775) 781-1523 for more information.