After much thought and prayer, and my husband pushing me we have been given an incredible opportunity to open a small shop. I am currently operating under cottage and doing three cakes on the weekends and some mid week orders. I plan on opening on Friday, Sat for cupcakes only. We have our farmers market, events and such on those days. The building is two blocks from the beach.
I have researched so much but want to be super prepared for opening. I plan to have a grand opening with free mini cupcakes. I usually order all my supplies from Global sugar art. I would love advice from you ladies that are on or have been on this adventure. The best price to order bulk stuff from? I can't wait to actually have room to move around :)
Congratulations!! You must be thrilled! I have no advice... just encouragement!
ASorry, no advice from me either but Yay for you! I wish you nothing but happiness and the best of luck!!!
Well I can't really give advice since I'm just in the beginning stages of opening mine. I can tell you what we are going to be doing. Currently, we are operating made to order out of a commercial kitchen. Our retail space will be opening right next to our kitchen. We will most likely be open 11-7 Tuesday-Sunday. I highly recommend having a least one day that you can have off. Doesn't have to be a Monday but it should probably be a slower day. We will have ready to purchase cupcakes, decorated sugar cookies, and our white chocolate macadamia nut popcorn. We are still going to be doing custom cakes but we will have a minimum for custom orders once we open. For those that don't need a custom cake, we plan to do what I'm calling "gallery cakes". These will be designs that I create and that I know my staff can complete quickly. It will be a way for customers to have a cake from us, without having a custom cake price tag attached. And for those that don't know what they want. :P I'm hopefully going to be starting a blog through my website detailing the process. We're aiming for a mid-June opening. When do you hope to open your shop?
Good luck! Keep us updated. :D
AI had a shop back in 2009. I was preggers and wasn't up for the challenge. In 2009, I didn't really use social media to the best of my ability. With Facebook, twitter, Instagram...take advantage of those to reach your customer. I wish I did:/
I opened my store front in October without any real planning. Here are some things I have learned:
1. Have a clear plan of what you want to serve but be flexible. I started off only wanting to do cupcakes and other small treats (and of course the special occasion cakes on order) No lunches and no tables for people to hang out. Now we carry all kinds of delicious sweets, a full lunch menu, gluten free, gift items, and 4 tables for people to sit and eat. I haven't added most of the things people ask for but by adding certain things it shows that I was listening and care about what they want.
2. Be firm on your pricing. I cant tell you how many people have told me my prices are too high and they can get it at Walmart cheaper. I am ok with letting them go to Walmart. But it took some time for me to not take it personally.
3. Use social media. Facebook has been my best friend. Don't spend too much on radio advertising. Make sure to ask your first time customers how they heard about you. Do contests and such to get your name out there.
4. Don't give up. About 4 months after I opened I would have panic attacks on days that people wouldn't come in. Surely I would have to close the next week right?. But I stuck with it and now I have one of the most successful bakeries in my area.
It's hard to know where to start on what to tell you, there is just so much that goes in to a retail storefront! We have a shop and have been open a little over a year. It's been quite the learning experience!
I guess the first thing that jumps out at me would be being open only two days a week. Do you think two days of retail sales in addition to the custom cakes is going to be enough to cover your overhead? I'm not saying it won't be, just asking. It depends on how much your overhead is and how many cakes you are doing.
Right now I would say custom cakes are about 50% of our business, so it's definitely important to have that side of your business strong. In our experience, the retail shop items aren't enough to sustain you.
Do you have a good amount of start up capital available to pull from? Aside from start up costs, it's best to have some money in the bank to cover business costs for a while until the business can fully support itself, not to mention money to live off of until the business can pay you.
As far as supplies, we get all of our raw materials (butter, flour, sugar, etc.) at Restaurant Depot. For more specialized supplies for cake decorating, we order from a few different places online (GSA, Fondant Source, etc.). We get our boxes from BRP.
Do you need to do any significant build out to the space you are looking at? That can be a significant cost.