HappyCake10609 Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 8:03pm
post #1 of

Okay, let me start by saying yes, I AM a legal baker. I rent a kitchen, I am licensed by the health department, I have insurance.... In my state, in most towns home baking is legal under a "homestead" license, but last year when I was starting my business I learned that my town is one of the few who are "self-inspected" and don't allow home food business... But because it's okay in most towns there aren't a lot of rental kitchens around... I have to drive 40 minutes to get to the kitchen I rent. I took the time to do my research, paid all the fees (instead of a $50 homestead license, I had to pay a $300 fee to get licensed as a caterer!) pay for insurance, blah blah blah....

The reason I'm so irritated is because even though I've taken the time and spent the money to operate illegally, I still had my town's code enforcement officer stop by today! Why? Because a neighbor claimed that I'm running a prolific cupcake business from my home?! I'm pretty sure I know what neighbor is was- I live in a 3 family home, I'm on the 2nd of 3 floors... the complaint was that I bake SO much it heats their house causing them to have to run an AC in the summer icon_confused.gif That leads me to believe it is my upstairs neighbor... (do you not realize that you're on the 3rd flipping floor and it's naturally hot in the summer?) I'm so irritated by this blatant attack on my business! Luckily I have all the paperwork necessary to prove I'm a legal business and the code enforcement officer was more than satisfied.

But I am boiling with anger right now because if this person had come to talk to me I would have gladly shown them my business documents, I worked hard to do this legally... to have someone try to smear my name is so aggravating. I'm just a little business, I'm not even that busy because I'm also a stay at home mom and until my son is in school he is my priority and it's a pain to have to drive 40 minutes to bake.... But I'm trying to build a good reputation for myself, I got legal to build a portfolio without having to shell out all the money to do free cakes for friends and family (MOST of the cakes I have done are freebies, or dummies), so that when I can dedicate myself to my business full time I have something to show people. I don't advertise much (I'm listed on most of the free sites and I have a Google Adwords ad that I have a very small limit on the daily budget)...

I wouldn't even be this angry if it had been a competitor who tried to stir up trouble, it's the fact that this was very much a personal attack by someone who I can only imagine is jealous.

Sorry for the long rant... I guess the moral is let this be a warning, even when you do everything right, you STILL have people try to cause trouble for you... if I wasn't a legal baker I'd be in trouble right now....

Off to bake some cupcakes for my family to enjoy today!

23 replies
tigachu Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 8:19pm
post #2 of

I am a hobbyist so I don't have any business advice for you but I want to encourage you to keep doing what you're doing (operating legally and covering yourself).

I wish you the best of luck with your business icon_smile.gif

ChristineCMC Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 8:34pm
post #3 of

I also have no business advice and it seems to me like you already have that taken care of with your "i" dotted and "t's crossed. Maybe someone else can offer you advice on that end.

If I were you though, I would go on a baking spree for friends and family. I can sometimes be passive aggressive, so I might even take some up to my neighber with a smile on my face and say, "I just felt like baking today and thought I would share some of my treats with you." icon_razz.gif

Sorry that you have to deal with that crap thoughicon_smile.gif

jgifford Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 8:39pm
post #4 of

Well, I just think it's terrible of you to force your neighbors to run their air conditioning. How insensitive! icon_rolleyes.gif

Why do some people always have to blame someone else for everything? Give me a break. Third floor = hot in the summer. Or maybe they're just pansies - - we lived in upstate NY for 12 years and never had an air conditioner. Of course, we're from TX and used to heat and didn't live on the 3rd floor so it never got hot enough that we were completely miserable.

If you don't even do your baking at home, how can you run a "prolific cupcake business" from there anyway? Do you have customers coming and going at all hours? How would that affect the termperature anyway?

This just makes my head hurt. I'd keep an eye on them if I were you.

Wow. Just Wow.

HappyCake10609 Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 8:44pm
post #5 of

Thanks for the support! It's just so annoying, I can't wait until we can move!

I did bake up some cupcakes and when the icing is ready I'm going to have my daughter invite a bunch of friends over so they can sit outside on this beautiful day and enjoy a treat icon_razz.gif

ChristineCMC Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 8:48pm
post #6 of

Good for you thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

HappyCake10609 Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 8:54pm
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgifford

Well, I just think it's terrible of you to force your neighbors to run their air conditioning. How insensitive! icon_rolleyes.gif

Why do some people always have to blame someone else for everything? Give me a break. Third floor = hot in the summer. Or maybe they're just pansies - - we lived in upstate NY for 12 years and never had an air conditioner. Of course, we're from TX and used to heat and didn't live on the 3rd floor so it never got hot enough that we were completely miserable.

If you don't even do your baking at home, how can you run a "prolific cupcake business" from there anyway? Do you have customers coming and going at all hours? How would that affect the termperature anyway?

This just makes my head hurt. I'd keep an eye on them if I were you.

Wow. Just Wow.




Yeah, it's just crazy, I never have customers over- I have consultations and meetings at Starbucks and deliver any orders. I mostly do cakes and not cupcakes, I make cupcakes mostly for family functions or to test recipes because they are easier. That statement is what really makes me think it's this person in particular, last summer I was making cupcakes for friends of ours (free of charge, I wasn't even a business then) and we chatted about it.

The whole thing boggles my mind, we've had other problems with this neighbor before, but never thought she'd attack us like this. We called our landlord to see if he got a complaint and he hadn't... so it's not just a matter of the neighbor's apartment being hot, they went to the town with the hopes that I was illegal and they'd get my business shut down.

Sorry, I keep venting, lol... just so, so irritated and offended right now. I'm a nice person, we try to be respectful of our neighbors, it just blows my mind when I encounter people who are just down right mean...

MamaDear Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 9:46pm
post #8 of

Unfortunately HATER TOTS are everywhere. People like these are the reasons that a good neighborhood is hard to find. Do they complain in the winter that you don't bake enough to heat their home and they have to use extra heating? icon_twisted.gif Sorry you have to put up with that kind of stuff but it is good that you have all your ducks in a row beforehand!

Keep on caking and let them keep on hating... icon_lol.gif

mommachris Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 12:46am
post #9 of

I say bake them some cuppies and leave them on their door step with a gracious note "Just Because, love the people downstairs."
Act like it never happened. When they call to report you again, let HD tell them to go jump in the lake cause you are legal.


mommachris.

mom2twogrlz Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 1:00am

So sorry. But yeah, I would keep up the baking for personal use as much as you can. Make them some goodies and deliver them with copies of your paperwork. Let them know that you know, and hopefully they will back down.

billiev2000 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 1:49am

Totally feel your pain (anger). I am licensed and insured all that good stuff. I got a call from HD today telling me they had a complaint from a business owner in my county. I explained what I do, how I sell, etc. He ended up laughing it off and told me that I was fine and to keep doing what I'm doing. It really got me though because this person had the nerve to print a copy of my Facebook page to take in for the inspector to see. This did not help their case. I think I know who did it. I actually used to work for her. Although I am furious that she tried to get me in trouble, I also am a little amused that she is so threatened by me. She has almost 30 years more experience!

scp1127 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 11:52am

Every citizen has the right to ask the HD if a food establishment is licensed. So this really isn't out of line. HD's field these calls all the time.

If the person's home was hot, she also has a right to check the licensing. If you were baking illegally, it would be causing her bills to be higher.

So I'm not seeing why these would be issues for being upset. If the shoe were on the other foot, you wouldn't want your utility bills higher because someone was using a property outside the code. She was just making sure she was keeping her bill as low as possible.

So in both cases, the people were actually going through the proper channels to answer their questions. It's really nothing to get upset about and the actions don't warrant retaliation.

sheilaaellis44 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 12:10pm

You're going to devote a lot of time and energy to starting a business and building it into a successful enterprise, so it's really important that you truly deeply enjoy what you do, whether it be running fishing charters, creating pottery or providing financial advice. Don't wait until you've offically started your business to line these up, because your business can't survive without them. Do the networking. Make the contacts. Sell or even give away your products or services. You can't start marketing too soon.

ChristineCMC Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 12:35pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Every citizen has the right to ask the HD if a food establishment is licensed. So this really isn't out of line. HD's field these calls all the time.

If the person's home was hot, she also has a right to check the licensing. If you were baking illegally, it would be causing her bills to be higher.

So I'm not seeing why these would be issues for being upset. If the shoe were on the other foot, you wouldn't want your utility bills higher because someone was using a property outside the code. She was just making sure she was keeping her bill as low as possible.

So in both cases, the people were actually going through the proper channels to answer their questions. It's really nothing to get upset about and the actions don't warrant retaliation.





I think the issue here was it was someone who really could have just rang her dooorbell and asked her. If she didn't like the answer she was got, she could have followed up with the HD. This was not a stranger on the street, but someone she sees all the time.

HappyCake10609 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 12:54pm

Thanks everyone, I'm not feeling so angry anymore!

spc1127: I really respect you and your advice, so thank you. It's hard to look at things so objectively when you are so close to the situation.

I wasn't angry that the health department was checking up on me, or even that someone had "reported" me. I haven't done anything wrong and was easily able to show my papers and get everything straightened out- it took all of 10 minutes to clear everything up. My initial reaction was to be angry because of who I had assumed (turned out I was right- kind of) had called. It's a neighbor who we'd had friction with before but things had been pleasant between us lately. Last weekend I was testing vanilla cake recipes in my home, but other than that I don't feel like I do copious amounts of baking in my home, maybe a little more than the average person but nothing too abnormal. My own utilities have not gone up any noticeable amount. And I would have hoped that if she had a problem with us she would have spoken to us or at least the landlord before taking such extreme measures.

They approached my husband as he was coming home last night to see what was going on because they noticed someone had come to the door. When he told them at first they acted shocked, but later she sent her boyfriend down because she had been too embarrassed. I'm not going to mention all of their business, but she had mentioned to a utility company that the lady below her baked a lot. And it was the utility company who was following up and contacted the HD. So, I feel much better now because it was not someone close to me attacking me. I have no hard feelings and appreciate what it must have taken to apologize to us. It was just a misunderstanding. Like scp1127 said, anyone has a right to check up on licensing and the fact that someone did was never really my issue...

*The kitchen I rent is in another town/county so my license if filed there, but the gentleman I spoke with yesterday was very understanding and he said he'd keep copies on file with my town in case anyone ever had a question about it again.

sheilaaellis44: thank you for your advice as well! I admit that marketing myself is something I struggle with. I am a shy person by nature and not very boastful, so it takes a lot for me to approach people.... but I'm not ignoring my business entirely... I run a Google Ad with a budget that is covered by the orders it generates. I list on all of the free sites... I just don't want to pay too much for marketing yet because I would not be capable of taking on a larger work load. I have done my networking and was lucky enough to pair up with an event planner and a photographer, we did a small bridal show together. They are even planning a photo shoot they want to try and publish and have asked me to make the display cake. So while I'm not really pushing my marketing, I've got several good lead generators.

Thank you again, everyone... for all of the advice and encouragement!

scp1127 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 1:38pm

Happy, I really meant for my comment to make you feel better. Of course we all get mad when someone questions our business, or anything close to us.

But the lady really shouldn't have contacted you directly. She may have feared retailation and she had every right to check.

The good news for you is that because your business was in order, this is one of those times when the age-old CC question, Why bother to be licensed?", gets a real life answer.

I asked my HD inspector how she finds unlicensed bakers. She said she relied on citizens that turned in the bakers. This is common practice for the general public to question licensing. It's not fellow bakers, but dissatisfied customers and general inquiries about home bakers by potential clients checking on legalitites and inspections. The same thing happens when someone feels a restaurant may not be up to standards.

So just feel good that all of that hard work really paid off for you. I'm sure you sleep better knowing the details are all in order.

MimiFix Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 1:55pm

Greetings HappyCake, I'm glad you had a fairly happy ending to your problem.

As a side issue, some CC members become irritated when other members stress the importance of running a legal business. This thread is a good example of a potential problem that would not have had a positive ending if the reported business was "under the radar."

HappyCake10609 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 1:59pm

I totally understand and your comment was received as you meant it... good advice and an objective view!

I do sleep well knowing everything is in order, and when I got home and my daughter handed me the business card I was able to grab my folder, call the HD and be done with it. My initial post wasn't just to rant to fellow cakers, but to share my real-life encounter as a warning to those considering doing business that is not on the up and up. My business is not even a year old and I've already had to "show my credentials." And it all stemmed from an off handed comment that was made because of a misunderstanding... this stuff happens! In my opinion the other potential outcome of this situation (if I had not been properly licensed, etc..) is not worth the risk...

Cakery2012 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 2:15pm

The woman upstairs sounds jealous ! She has heard you have a Cake business and trying to ruin it without even knowing you are legal and dont bake at home for profit.

I have lived in more than one upstairs apartment and yes its hot in the summer . Heat rises Duh !

TheSugarLab Posted 28 Apr 2012 , 1:15pm

I just recently started my business so I'm glad to know that things are frustrating for others as well. By recently, I mean last week. icon_biggrin.gif I'm out in California and we're are pretty strict out here when it comes to food safety so no home bakeries allowed. I do get annoyed when I see someone on Facebook who I know is working out of their home kitchen.

I can see why you would be upset about someone questioning you. My commercial kitchen is actually in the same building as a wholesale bakery. One of the owners has come over twice in the last week. They have been in the business for over 25 years so I'm not sure they see me as competition but it's still a little strange. He is being nice and even said if I ever need anything (like eggs) I can just call them. He made a comment the last time he came by that has me a little confused. "I'm surprised you can afford pure vanilla" (I was in the process of mixing some icing and had my vanilla out). It made me wonder what they were using. I didn't think it was that expensive, especially considering I was using Costco's brand and not even my much higher quality bourbon vanilla.

Baker_Rose Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 3:41am

Many years ago I had my garden seed set up on my front porch, viewable from the road. I had four shop lights going at one time and of course I also had a brooder box with peeps and two heat lamps.

Needless to say my electric bill was high the next month and I was at home and noticed an unmarked truck with men looking right at the house with binoculars.

I went out to see what they were up to when they told me they worked for the electric company (showed the I.D.s) and that my property was using an unusually large load of electricity.

Hmmmmm, I invited them to the porch to show them that I was growing tomatoes, peppers and herbs and NOT "Crazy Mary Jane" !!! And that the peeps were "sucking down the kilowatts" as well. Honestly I don't think they were convinced because when they got into the truck I saw them looking into the other windows that had lights on with the binoculars. I was expecting others to come knocking after that, but they never did.

This happens a lot, if you are using "too much" utilities, electric, gas, water they come a calling!! Be happy it was a Health Department person and not a swat team.

Annabakescakes Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 5:23am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker_Rose

Many years ago I had my garden seed set up on my front porch, viewable from the road. I had four shop lights going at one time and of course I also had a brooder box with peeps and two heat lamps.

Needless to say my electric bill was high the next month and I was at home and noticed an unmarked truck with men looking right at the house with binoculars.

I went out to see what they were up to when they told me they worked for the electric company (showed the I.D.s) and that my property was using an unusually large load of electricity.

Hmmmmm, I invited them to the porch to show them that I was growing tomatoes, peppers and herbs and NOT "Crazy Mary Jane" !!! And that the peeps were "sucking down the kilowatts" as well. Honestly I don't think they were convinced because when they got into the truck I saw them looking into the other windows that had lights on with the binoculars. I was expecting others to come knocking after that, but they never did.

This happens a lot, if you are using "too much" utilities, electric, gas, water they come a calling!! Be happy it was a Health Department person and not a swat team.


.

Good warning as well! I will now scrap my plans to start a marijuana grow house icon_wink.gif

cakesbycathy Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 11:45pm

you're brave. I would have been calling the cops to report suspicious a van thumbs_up.gif

sherrycanary62 Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 12:55am

I wouldn't bake em a dang thing...what I would do is fill a paper bag with dog poo, go up to their door, light the bag on fire, knock on their door and run like hell....but that's just my overactive revengeful imagination at work icon_evil.gif

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