I have been reading posts all summer. Everyone here does terrific work!
I have been fantasizing all summer about opening a cookie shop in my town where I would sell decorated cookies as well as batches of a couple of different variations of undecorated cookies and brownies. I have fallen in love with decorating cookies and think that I would enjoy it very much. My problem is that I am a teacher and it is difficult for me to leave my job, especially since I am not sure about how it will be financially.
My question is, has anyone opened their own cookie shops? Has it been the best thing you've done...or the worst? Give me some advice. There are a couple of opportunities here in town to lease or buy a space.
Any comments would be appreciated.
You might want to send a pm to acookieobsession.
In a nutsell:
I had a custom cookie business for a couple of years. I ran it like a catering business (no shop) and leased kitchen space at a good price and I still barely made a profit. Why? I really hadn't thought things through as thoroughly as I should have. I say this after months and months of planning, etc.
Bottom line: you NEED a business plan, sufficient $$ and A LOT of time if you want to do this the right way (I couldn't imagine still teaching and trying to run a shop at the same time).
I know the Food Network is filled with shows where people gave up their full-time jobs, opened a business they knew nothing about and now have millions of dollars pouring in. But for every one of those stories, there are tens of thousands of people who did not make it.
It was a lot of hard work, anxiety and frustration, but I also loved it. Had I the chance to do it again I would. But this time I would have a thoroughly executed business plan and money to sufficiently back me up.
I don't mean to throw a damper on your dreams at all, I am just relating my story and feelings having run my own business.
Please feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
Thanks for the input cookieman. I was actually thinking of leaving my present profession (teaching) and doing the cookie business full-time. I was hoping it would be "in demand" so to speak.. I was hoping that there would be a lot of people who would place orders for decorated cookies and cookie bouquets. If I could I would make it a home-based business and leave the teaching field but I live in the state of Florida and if I'm not mistaken, home-based baking businesses are not allowed.
I agree that you need a business plan. A primary component of that is the marketing plan. The better you market the more business you get, the more money you make.
You must really consider the cost of goods and labor in respect to the retail cost of your product.
And I say this from experience...some good time saving gadgets are good...they help you speed up the process. However, try to save as much a you can so you can grow the business. If you spend all the money on stuff, you will be in trouble when it comes time for rent, insurnace, etc.
I would reccomend that to increase your comfort level with leaving your job you start building your business during this school year. Give away things, donate to churches etc. After Christmas, find yourself a place to rent their kitchen partime. Then this summer when you are off anyway you can work in the kitchen. If you find you build up enough business to stop and open your shop you can quit. But really evaluate how much money it takes to live AND run a business.
Fianlly, runing a small busines is rewarding and enriching and I have learned things I never thought I would. i have learned I have flair for some business things as well and I am proud of the work I have accomplished. However, running a small business by yourself is HARD! You have no time to be sick, or feel like you want to relax instead. You are the baker, decorator, accountant, webmaster, receptionist, purchaser, and numerous other non baking tasks.
And don't forget to schedule in your vacations, I suggest at least 6 months at a time.
Hope this helps, and good luck in whatever you decide.
here is my 2 cents.
i would cont. to teach, but at the same time build up clientel (spelling?) you could bring things to the teachers lounge and let everyone know that it is from you. then if let your fellow teachers know what your talents are, you can possibley fill orders for there special occasions. when word gets out about you, maybe then you could consider doing cookies full time. this way you dont have to just jump in, and you can see if you have the demand for a full time business.
the tricky part is not having a licsence (again with the spelling?)
so, heres what i would do, i would volunteer to bring a cookie bouquet for whatever special event that is going on in your school. if you volunteer you dont need a liscence....then you can let your fellow teachers know that you would like to sell your cookies...i wouldnt think that the health dept. would be down your throat for selling to fellow teachers. anyway, you can ask your co-workers if they would order cookies like these if there was a shop in town,ect.. get them excited for you.
if you get a huge following then you may want to check into a storefront.
and by then you will have the cleintell to pay the bills.
Listen to these posts....they are BANG on with their advice!! It sounds like a dreamy job to bake and ice cookies all day supposing that money will just pour in, but the reality is exactly like they've explained.
I do the job of 3 people running the website, answering phones, answering emails, sketching cakes/cookies, giving quotes, writing up invoices, taxes taxes taxes, shopping for ingredients and supplies, delivering orders when needed....and that's beside even stepping a foot inside the kitchen to actually PRODUCE the goods!
I absolutely admire anyone who can juggle the work of their own business and still give themselves time out for their own life. As of yet, I have not been able to do it. I work myself 18-19 hours a day when I have too much on my plate.
i moved to florida not too long 8 months and i saw people it is not interested too much and cakes and cookies like that......i mean they might but they dont get paid too much here..and supermarkets have so low prices..even it wont taste like a homemade lets say ...they will prefer to buy that 40$ big cake from publish that a good one from us.....
new york it is so diferent I MISS NEW YORK.......
For some good information on the cookie/cake decorating business be sure to check out the Cake Decorating Business Forum on CC. It is really helpful for anyone interested in starting a business. . . home-based or store front.
I saw something on TV one time about a shop in New York that would let people come in and pick out the ingredients for their own cookies and the kind of cookie dough they wanted and they would be baked and eaten right there. They also had an assortment of drinks. Kind of like a Subway for cookies. Maybe if you had something like that to attract customers and then did decorative cookies as well.
Just an idea.
What a great idea!
People are really into anything that lets them personalize their order...and to watch them be baked fresh right infront of them, who could resist??
Thanks for all of the great advice! I'm going to take everything into consideration. I will definitely take cookies to school functions. As a matter of fact, I am making apples for the opening of schools.
I have a full time job, make wedding cakes and do catering. I then kinda fell into the cookie business (www.bannascookies.com) when a car dealership started ordering cookies for their customer lounge for 4 of their locations..... 20 dozen a day plus Saturday cookies = over 100 dozen a week. I was spending 4 hours a night baking cookies....every single night. When the wedding season approached, something had to give. So I gave my notice to the dealership so I could focus on weddings, which is WAY more profitable. It was a business decision .... 80 hours a month on cookies to make less money than I would get on one wedding, which only took a grand total of about 16 hours.
I'm taking the long way home on this one, but really really factor your time. Baking cookies for 100 people probably takes more time than wedding cake for 100 and for way less money. THe trick is high volume, not the onesey-twosey orders from walk-ins. Commercial accounts, like dealerships, realtors, places that sell boats or pools (where people buy big dollar items and the store wants to keep them in the store as long as they can!).
Funny though ... the dealership wants my cookies back when I get the commercial kitchen open, even tho' mine will cost them twice as much as the grocery store cookies they are using. It won't take me 4 hours with a large commercial oven, but we'll see......
where did you find you picket fence boxes for your cookie bouquets?
There's a store called Flower Factory. They are mostly in Ohio and a couple in Indiana. It's a wholesale place (lots of silk flowers, crafts, catering, candles and wedding stuff!!!) open to the public. http://www.flowerfactoryinc.com/m_aboutus.asp
Prices are FABULOUS. A floating rose shaped candle that sells for $1.49 at Michaels is $0.29 at the Flower Factory. The 6ft garlands of greenery that are $15.99 at Hobby Lobby and Michaels are $2.99 at Flower Factory.
but the bad part is the inventory is not consistent. It's a "if you see it, grab it 'coz it won't be there next week" thing. We bought like 25 of these things when they were in stock and I saved a tag with the UPC (is that what it's called?) so I could try to order more. I didn't find their website too user friendly, but whenever I go to the store, I spend like 3 hours just looking around!
The fence/boxes work really well. We were having a problem with the cookies being top-heavy if we used coffee mugs, small pails and other things. These boxes are not heavy, but they're sturdy and distribute the weight well so there are no topple-overs.
AHi. Great advices! Is anyone of younstill in the cookies business? I live ovdrseas and would love to open a shop to sell my personalized cookies.
i own a cookie business in a small town. i do my iced sugar cookies and normal cookies as well. I'd say to donate cookies to Dr offices and dealerships. show the bigger clients what you can do as well as the schools and churches. maybe make a business card to attach to all of your cookies. that's how i started. 3 months into opening my store front and i love it. you get faster and better with time. the biggest problem is the economy. most people don't want to pay the price of a decorated cookie. i even had a lady try to haggle with me. she wanted me to sell them for 50 cents each. lol. then i kindly told her how much time it takes to "hand paint" each cookie. Don't be discouraged. i love what i do! My hubby does all the management stuff like taxes and ordering. Hes the PR man! I'm the baker. since opening i work about 12-14 hour days. its tiring and sometimes its hard. it costed me about 12k to open shop. I bought a lot of cutters, and supplies, also a display case. Taxes, permits, and certs are expensive. some cities also make you pay for a permit for your signs above your shop and outside. be prepared. my biggest advice is to make a name for yourself! people need to know who you are! Establish a client base. Also i did a free cookie give away to each customer on my grand opening. so people could try my product. i hope this helps!
AThank you !! It does help. I was just talking to a friend who owns a flower shop and she offered her showroom to me, so I can take some cookies to give away to her clients. I will do that next week and post a comment on the outcome. Greetings!!!