I think I may be the only guy here ...... hope that's okay!
Anyways..!! Hi all, from SE Ohio. I've spent several days reading posts here on CC and finally got around to registering. There's a ton of great info here and I hope to contribute something as well, eventually.
Growing up I did a decent amount of baking and I've recently been at it again from time to time. I think it's fun and rewarding, and all my friends rave about my baked goods, so I'm exploring the possibility of taking things further, somehow. I read on here about the Ohio Cottage Food Law and it would appear that I do meet the state requirements for getting the $10 license - no pets, no carpet in the kitchen, etc. - so that's definitely a plus! I still need to check the local laws to be sure but this looks like it could be a good way to "test the waters" (see if this is something I would like to pursue long-term or not) without much cost or risk. I'm 22 and underemployed (I work overnight part-time) and could definitely use some extra income... I'm not convinced this sort of thing would bring in much money but at least I'd be doing something that I enjoy and that has potential to lead to bigger and better things down the road, right?? Now I do have some questions, thoughts and concerns, if anyone would be so kind as to enlighten me....
1. My town (East Liverpool, pop. 13k) is pretty poor (the median family income is $27,500), although the CDP I'm in (Calcutta, pop. 3500) is wealthier ($45,750 median family income).... Do y'all think an area like this would be able to support a small home bakery?
2. Where to sell my baked goods? I'm new to the area (moved here a couple months ago from about 30 mins away, in PA) and I'm not aware of any farmers markets here. I guess there's always Youngstown... but that's about 45 mins away... and there's the Rogers Open Air Market about 20 mins away... but from what I'm reading on their website it would run me $50-60/day to be a food vendor there, so I'm not at all sure I would be able to turn a profit after that.... I would also need liability insurance before I could sell there... What about local bakeries? Anyone have much luck selling their products that way? Are many bakery owners open to this? Could I sell baked goods online via a website? From what I've read I believe I would still be restricted to Ohio sales, correct? Is it practical to sell online? Do many people buy this way? I've been doing a lot of business online (non food) since I was about twelve so I do have a lot of experience with online sales and marketing... and I could put together a pretty nice looking website if need be...
3. Approx. how much would liability insurance cost per year? And what are some good companies to go through?
4. I've never really decorated a cake but am of course looking to learning that... I would consider myself somewhat creative and have an eye for what looks good, so I don't think it would be too hard for me to learn... just lots of practice, I think. For that reason, I wouldn't be doing fancy cakes initially. I guess to start off I'd be focusing on cookies, pies, breads, muffins, simple (yet delicious!) cakes, etc...
5. What kind of profit is possible with something small-scale like this? I would imagine that most of your profits come from big ticket items like wedding cakes.... but I might very well be wrong.
Ok, I'm going to stop now before this gets any longer.... ha! I would be very appreciative of any insight that y'all at CC can send my way. And please be honest, the last thing I want is to be encouraged to start something that has very little chance of actually going anywhere. My biggest concern is that I won't be able to find customers...
Hi and Welcome to CC, Tom.
And FYI, there are other men on CC!!!
Hi Tom! Welcome, keep reading and you are bound to find your answers on this site.
Hi Tom! I'm in your area often as my brother's family lives right across the river in Chester, WV (and really....the only places to go out to eat are in East Liverpool)
I too am looking ot start a business in a small sort of run-down town but is also one that WANTS to have more growth. I think a small town bakery would be very popular is the product is good and the prices are fair. As far as location, I would find a place up town where people work....perhaps a spot near courthouse or something where they may be a lot of foot traffic. Maybe even Kent State campus area? That's probably where I would start at least. Hope that helps Once you're up and running I'll come visit your place!!
@JanH: Hi & thanks for the welcome. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only guy here.
@LKing12: Thanks, I've done a lot of reading and will continue to do so.
@dreamsville: Great to hear from a local! Thanks for the ideas. Initially I'd like to do something on a smaller scale, from home, to see how things go.. but down the line I would definitely be interested in opening up a cafe/bakery. I'd probably shoot for someplace with a little more growth/money (like Boardman maybe?) but who knows. Btw I love your Rapunzel's Tower cake!
Would love to hear from more of y'all!
I know East Liverpool! Used to play volleyball against the Christian school there.
I do not have business experience, but i would think if it is a poor area you might be better off specializing in smaller things. fun cupcakes, cake pops (read up on that if you haven't already, they are all the rage!) and small cakes. My thoughts are that people may be willing to part with smaller amounts of money ($1 here $2 there) than with big chunks of money. (poor, I do have experience with! I wouldn't have a problem plunking down a few dollars for cake pops for my kids as a treat. but no way could I afford a birthday cake at $3 a slice.)
That's just my take on it. I have heard that people do well at craft/trade shows that you could do and cater to people outside of E.L. Also setting up an online store might help if you can come up with products that ship well. (etsy has quite a few specialty food shops like that) you just gotta find your niche and do it in a way that makes your product seem irresistible and worth having it shipped to them.
Good luck! Wish I still lived in Ohio so I could use the cottage law! No such luck in IL!
No one can tell you if your area will support a bakery or not. Best advice I can give is to put together a business plan and do some market research for your area. Your research will tell you whether your area will support a small bakery.
If you get the $10 license, (you can operate without it) you can sell out of state as well.
HI, another Buckeye here. Welcome, and read! LOTS of info on here, as you have found out!
Hi tom, welcome.
I am in North west ohio. Go ahead and believe in yourself. It will happen and don't let people put them down. I did, and rub it in there noses everytime I drive by this cute little coffee shop and say see I told you it would work... and it could have been OURS! No one believed that a coffee pastry shop would work in the next town over. Too small everyone told me.
No one would stop. they told me. too much a farm town..more into the mcdonalds drive through with there pickup trucks..they told me.. WRONG!
This little shop doesnt even make there own items. It all comes pre made from gordon food services (GFS). All the soups and breads and brownies everything.
And the prices not cheap. It has been 5 yrs and they have grown into a catering business as well and have a pastry and coffee and sandwich trailer as a concession at the local fair and all events. Yet people wouldn't listen. This is the 3rd location that I have found that are now working fantastic with someone elses business in them. That no one would listen to me. And im the crazy one? If I would have had enough resources on my own I would have been so happy and busy and more financialy set than I am right now. I still dream about it but I know it won't happen for me with my non support group so I wish you all the best!!! Go for it!
I literally stumbled upon your post and glad I did!
I grew up in Wellsville, just a few miles south of East Liverpool, so I really know the area. ~I do not live there currently, but have family in the area.~
Regarding other peoples comments:
I area with dreamville the Kent State area would be good. Also a thought near City Hospital. Don't forget Mountaineer Park, which could draw business, but I think you would need to situate yourself somewhere where people could have a view of the Ohio River, and our some other pretty view, park, etc. I would advertise there as well.
Mamabaer had good suggestions about the marketing of your items. Keep them small and portable, also reasonably priced. Make yourself available for bigger projects.
A few suggestions, the Antique Mall might be a place to check out. They are in a building down from the library in ELO.
Wellsville also has some store front property available. Let me know if you would consider this. There are beautiful views and benchs along the river for people to walk to.
I know someone in the area that is new to cake decorating, but very eager to learn, that potential you could take on as an employee.
Good luck! I always think "if you build, it they will come." That area really could use a shot in the arm. It needs more people like you to make the investment. I will I was in the position to do it.
i am in brookfield ohio (trumbull county )and i am trying to start a cupcake business out of my house as well i would love to have a store front too but afraid of same thing the economy here is dragging to say the least.i still have had a little bit of business people are tired of grocery store baked goods they want homemade food without all the chemicals and preservatives so that is a plus. i just called a few specialty shops in the area and wow am i undderselling my cupcakes but i thought because we aren't a wealthy area people wouldnt pay alot for cupcakes but if you are offering something they cant get anywhere else there are people who will pay for it rather than get the same old funky overlysweet petrified "baked goods" you get in the places that make it cheap and convenient. if you make something yummy and convenient and made for them it will work. i am hopeful anyway cause i have everything riding on this and i am also selftaught and on maternity leave and hoping not to return to work. you have to be willing to put yourself out there and make a fool of yourself and hear a lot of NOs.i am a really shy person it has been hard but i really want to do this forever i love it it is so much fun.we should stay in touch and help each out! lol