How To Know When It's Time To Open A Bakery Away From Home?

Business By countrycakes Updated 20 Sep 2010 , 6:33am by littlecake

countrycakes Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 1:16am
post #1 of 13

icon_smile.gif I have been doing this for quite a while now....live in the country,got the inspection/licensing, and did it all the legal route, and have managed to get quite a few customers....but am wondering when it's time to take it to the next step. I have so many pics that I have not posted....it's been months since I was here to do more than read. I have improved so much in the past several years....and I do still love what I do.Amazing to look back in the beginning and at pics now........WOOT! I have improved! I constantly try to do better everytime I do a cake or cookies or anything....I am always working to do the very best that I can.

I have found a space that was once a bakery......a long time ago. It's empty, and just sits there........still has all the equipment from what I can find out. I need to do more checking.......but how do you know when? It's a scary step.....I do live in a place where there are NO bakeries other than 3 grocery stores, and a Super WM....only 1 of the grocery stores offer a wedding cake, a very basic one....and I don't know about Super Walmart....

I just have been doing a lot of thinking....I know it's a big thing to do that next step. Just looking for some advice and some ideas. I know from what I have read here that it's time consuming, and a big commitment...for the record, I don't have little ones at home anymore and my husband is less than 10 years away from retirement. We don't do big things, ie; traveling, expensive hobbies, etc. He loves to bake and create as much as I do...and a lot of it we do TOGETHER. icon_smile.gif

I welcome ANY and ALL REPLIES. icon_smile.gif You all are so great about helping and advising. I also wear steel toed shoes. icon_wink.gif

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Edited to fix spelling errors. icon_smile.gif

12 replies
myslady Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 1:52am
post #2 of 13

At the point you feel your operation has grown too large to continue to work out of your home.

You have to think about how much do you want your volume to increase and are you ready to handle the additional capacity. A good start would be with a business plan for the potentially new operation.

countrycakes Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 1:54am
post #3 of 13

icon_smile.gif Thank you for your advice. I am looking forward to reading all who will respond. icon_smile.gif

tokazodo Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 2:14am
post #4 of 13

I think you and I are in the same boat. My husband is a few years from retiring at 55. I have one child married off and the last at home will graduate from high school this year and then head off to college. My husband loves to bake too. We have been trying to make the same decision. The choice has never been 'if', it's been 'when' and 'where'.

We have been researching in our area, which is a resort area. Personally, I don't know if we could make enough income 6 months out of the year, to support us the rest of the year. There is a dandy, Victorian type home which would make a beautiful bakery. But thinking about all the upgrades we would have to make and that puts the price tag way out of our reach.

So, now what's next? Each day I pray and ask for guidance. I really feel like this is the direction I am supposed to be headed in.
We sound about the same age, and we are trying to consider our next adventure before our retirement years.
Then, there's always the bucket list to consider. What is it, that we will regret not doing the most, when we're too old to not do it anymore?

People never really talk about it, but going through middle age is very much like going through puberty. Your hormones are all out of whack, there are all kinds of changes going on in your life, and your body is changing too!

Geesh! I never want to grow up!

I think the biggest mistake we can make, is to live with regret. I think if we have a dream, we need to try to achieve that dream. I think the good Lord puts those dreams in our hearts for a reason!

jason_kraft Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 2:19am
post #5 of 13

You need to carefully examine the market in your area for all the products you are considering for your bakery. Also get an idea of how much additional overhead is involved in renting or buying a storefront, including your time and the expense of getting it up to the current code.

We were looking at opening a retail storefront, but when we realized we would need to do 3-4 times as much work just to make the same amount of profit as our current setup (a rented commercial kitchen without a storefront, commercial home baking is not allowed in CA) the choice was easy.

Since NC allows commercial home baking, understand that you will be competing with other home bakers in your area with much lower overhead as well as grocery stores/WM. The home bakers will be able to undercut you for custom-order event cakes, and the grocery stores & WM will be able to undercut you on the low end products due to their logistical advantage. You would need to maintain a clear value advantage over your competition, AND the economic demographics of your area (population density, high income levels) need to be right.

countrycakes Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 2:21am
post #6 of 13

tokazodo, your post is so enlightening to me! I became 45 yo this year.......and I think I am having my 'midlife' crisis, rofl.....only it's not a crisis for me. It is a dream that I have had for so long.......and I just need guidance. The last part that you wrote is so very POWERFUL. I need to copy it down and read it over and over and over..........

countrycakes Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 2:25am
post #7 of 13

icon_smile.gif jasonkraft.....I also thank you for your input. I also need to state that when I was getting inspected and licensed......I did ask the 2 from the NC Dept of Ag just how many other LEGAL bakers that were in the areas where I am at........their response? "We only have *1* more other than you in our listing for this area." I am having to compete against at least *3* NOT LEGAL that I know of........1 of them is kind enough to have her pics posted at a local market and is ADVERTISING! icon_confused.gif Those who are NOT DOING THIS LEGALLY is a killer! I know that they are everywhere.........

I am taking all this into consideration....you have stated some fantastic points. THANK YOU TOO! thumbs_up.gif

UpAt2am Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 3:09am
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by countrycakes

icon_smile.gif jasonkraft.....I also thank you for your input. I also need to state that when I was getting inspected and licensed......I did ask the 2 from the NC Dept of Ag just how many other LEGAL bakers that were in the areas where I am at........their response? "We only have *1* more other than you in our listing for this area." I am having to compete against at least *3* NOT LEGAL that I know of........1 of them is kind enough to have her pics posted at a local market and is ADVERTISING! icon_confused.gif Those who are NOT DOING THIS LEGALLY is a killer! I know that they are everywhere.........

I am taking all this into consideration....you have stated some fantastic points. THANK YOU TOO! thumbs_up.gif




yep, i'm in NC and am legal and i know of many home bakers out there that aren't and they undercut me like crazy! it makes me insane!!! my inspector said i was the only home baker that he had visited. grrrr.

Kaylani Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 11:33am
post #9 of 13

What can you do in your store to make people 'have' to come to you?

If you are thinking about a midlife crisis look around & see if your friends are in the same boat?

Would they like to 'play & decorate cakes' like you do?

Offer classes that they would want to attend.

Do something outside the box for your area. Go viral, be on the web, be different & create a buying experience not just an 'order'.

The only big thing about retail bakeries that I see as a huge drawback is the waste factor. If you sell a variety & it is on the menu then you have to bake it if they come or not. Then throw out what is not sold (or donate to a local charity) That expense can bring you down if the volume is not in your area.

Do tons of market research on that part first. No one can answer that for your area except local businesses. Network, network, network. Go to a chamber meeting ( or similar) in your area for a networking breakfast or lunch & chat with other people in the small retail coffee shops & restaurants. Get to know them & they will share business trends with you that you may not be able to see from this side of the counter.

Take what market information would apply to you and bookmark the rest.

I owned a flower shop for many years and the cost of product on slow weeks was draining. It is a reality that you can work around by having a solid plan for your area.

Best of luck!!! This is exciting. Don't let others fears confirm your own.

Network with other small business owners in your area. Having friends who can identify with where you are at in life is important. Other small business owners in your area are walking in similar shoes.

Find a commercial rental agent in your area you can network with and who you can trust. Have them put you on their email list for market trend updates on retail space in your area.

You will gain a wealth of knowledge from this information. Be honest about your plans and the people you want to work with will respond with courtesy.

Those who do not react with courtesy are good reminders of who we dont want to be in business. I silently thank them for keeping me on my customer service toes.

Continue to do your market research, write your solid business plan and live your dreams!!!! thumbs_up.gif

scp1127 Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 11:58am
post #10 of 13

Before you start a retail bakery, you could take an interim step. If your home kitchen is not your main kitchen, you can hire employees and have three shifts working around the clock to increase kitchen production times three. Then rent a storefront on an initial short term lease to sell your goods. This experience will let you know if this is what you want with minimal expense.

sari66 Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 7:01pm
post #11 of 13

Whatever you do make sure you research marketing, have $$$ saved for the long term and write your business plan. I live in a small town in NC and while I was doing over my kitchen to work from home I noticed a new shop getting ready to open in the downtown area. Well, they opened in late April of this year and they closed in early Aug. I don't know what happened but my guess is although she may have been busy at home she wasn't busy enough in her shop. Not saying that this will happen with you just pointing out what I saw happen locally.
If you're doing well and everything works well then go for it!
Good luck

mombabytiger Posted 19 Sep 2010 , 8:51pm
post #12 of 13

I say GO FOR IT!

littlecake Posted 20 Sep 2010 , 6:33am
post #13 of 13

i've had a storefront for 9 years...and i'm ya'lls age....as jason said you have to sell A LOT of cake.

doing a bakery is light years from baking a few cakes at home...i didsn't count , but i think i did about 50 last friday and saturday.

i think everyone should work in a bakery first, i worked in a few, before you invest all the money, it is kind of heartbreaking seeing all the money rolling in to only see it go back out again in overhead....i've been trying to downsize into a home operation for the last 5 years, so i could keep more of the money.

you have got to be fast to be able to do enough to cover the overhead...my son moved here 6 months ago to work with me, he said we have so much to do...the time just gets away from you....he calls the shop our "time machine...lol.

it's fun, but so much stress and work, you must love it or you won't be able to keep on going....do you have the passion?

good luck whatever you decide...if i were you, i'd do it from home, since you are at a place where you can.

i'm going to have to build a comm. kitchen onto my home...or i'd be back by now./

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