Saucy Success: Dunbar man gets deal with Wal-Mart

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Getting sauced is the key to success for Curt Sheard.

The Dunbar resident is the creator and owner of Big Boi’s barbecue sauces and King’s Rub, products that caught the attention of Wal-Mart, which will begin stocking his goods on the shelves of five stores in Lee County on Sept. 1. The retail giant will also sell Big Boi’s products on its website.

“It’s a huge break, like being on ‘Shark Tank,’ with all the exposure,” Sheard said.

The deal came about after Sheard traveled to Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to make a 30-minute presentation to one of the company’s product testers. He admits he was nervous, but that feeling soon turned to excitement.

The 43-year old construction manager and Army veteran grew up in Fort Myers and said he started cooking in his mother’s home in the Dunbar community 20 years ago. The first batch of sauce was so bad, Sheard said, he had to throw it out. “Garbage” is what he called it.

But Sheard refused to give up, perfecting his recipe for Big Boi’s over the years. At one point he sold the sauce in Mason jar, out of the back of car on the roadside. He currently sells the products on his website and is proud of his creations.

The Wal-Mart deal is significant not just for himself but for the community as a whole, Sheard contends.

“I believe in this community, Dunbar,” Sheard said. “It is a tragedy, all the gun violence. I would tell people, everyone has a gift, and you must be willing to sacrifice and perfect your gift. I would not be in this position if I did not believe in myself, and because of that, others believe in me.”

Wal-Mart will consider expanding the reach to 120 stores if his product sells well in Lee County, Sheard said. That would give him leverage to try to get the products in other grocery chains, like Publix.

Eventually, Sheard said he would like to start making his products in a local factory so that he can employ young people who need jobs.

“That would be my way of giving back to the greatest community, Dunbar, for all that it has done for me,” he said.

The Lee County Wal-Mart stores that will carry Sheard’s products are located at 4770 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers, 545 Pine Island Road in North Fort Myers, 14821 Ben C. Pratt/Six Mile Cypress Parkway in South Fort Myers, 1619 Del Prado Blvd. in Cape Coral, and 2523 Lee Blvd. in Lehigh Acres.