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Home baker turned store front owner???

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

Hey there, 

     Ive been decorating my cakes for years, but turned legal when the Texas Bakers bill was passed in 2011.  Since then, business has been booming and my skills have improved a lot, I think.  I had a very steady income with at least 1 wedding per weekend (sometimes 3 in the month of June!) on top of birthday cakes and cupcakes.  I had a large customer base and word of mouth did wonders for my business.  I would have never considered opening up a bakery where I lived, though, because where I lived, there was a cupcake shop and cake bakery on every block, it seemed.  It was financially sounder (?) for me to not have the overhead and to keep my profit and work from home.  However, in October my husbands job relocated us 5 hours away to a new, smaller town where nobody knew who I was.  I took a few months off to unpack my house, get the kids settled in school and to mourn the death of a family member, but in January I attended the bridal show here with BOOMING success.  Literally, my phone has done nothing but go off since then.  I've booked at least 7 weddings since then and have done quite a few birthday cakes, etc.  What a lot of the customers, and most importantly, owners of other businesses and wedding vendors are telling me is that the other bakeries in town (maybe 4?) are really going downhill.  The cakes are dry, wrong, look horrible, fall, crumble, are late being delivered and set up, etc.  Literally, one of the business owners said "You couldn't have moved to this town at a better time".  So my question is whether anyone else has successfully transitioned from a successful home baker to a bakery owner.  I would love any advice out there!  There isn't a whole lot of retail space, so there isn't really one location that I would be too dumb to pass up.  I'd really have to spend a lot of time, energy and money into finding something suitable for my needs.  Thanks in advance!!!

Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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post #2 of 39

I'm just going to copy a response I did to this question a couple of months ago, because it applies here too:

 

We just closed our storefront that we had for about two years, and one of the reasons was exactly what Mimi said here- it consumes your life. You don't have time or energy for anything else. As Mimi said, consider the daily reality of running a retail bakery- it's a lot of work, repetition, and drudgery. Not that we didn't enjoy it at all, but it got to where we felt like we were beating our head against a wall and getting nowhere because, although the store did pretty well, the overhead was oppressive and EVERY dime went to that. We went into it knowing that was going to be hard work, we counted the cost and all that, but it still kicked our butt. I have never felt so much relief and happiness as the day we closed our doors.
 

 

Bottom line- a storefront is worlds away from a home bakery, so realize how much more work it will be, and that all that money you are making off of cakes now will go right back into the shop for a while. Don't expect to take home a paycheck for a while, you need to have start up capital not only for build out, but to live off of until you can take a paycheck from your business. Realize that if you are working on a cake during the hours your shop is open, you will get interrupted at least eleventy million times to help customers, so it can be hard to really focus on your work like you want to.

 

If you do find a space that you like, try to get an estimate from a contractor of the build out costs BEFORE you sign the lease, so you know if the build out is feasible for you.

Truly not trying to be a dream crusher here! :smile: I just want to make sure anyone who is contemplating a bakery knows what they are getting themselves into.

Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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post #3 of 39
Brilliant, it's true, dreamcrushing or not, it's the truth.
"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
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"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
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post #4 of 39
Thread Starter 

Oh no, this is exactly the stuff I want to know!  From home (before we moved), I was making between $3,000-$4,000 a month, before expenses.  My prices weren't sky high, but my profit was somewhere in the 80% mark.  One of the spaces I'm looking at is a shopping center that is still under construction.  From the way it reads, the leasing agent would be able to accommodate for my needs (layout, sinks, vent hood, etc) during construction for whatever their terms are, I haven't spoken with him yet.  But I for SURE would never ever sign a lease until I was 1000000% sure of every little detail going into this.  This specific building would be $1,900 a month for 1200 sq ft.  

 

And I apologize that you had to copy and paste :/  I tried searching the forums for something similar to my question, but couldn't find any thread from a home baker transitioned to a store front owner

Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenSadler View Post
 

Oh no, this is exactly the stuff I want to know!  From home (before we moved), I was making between $3,000-$4,000 a month, before expenses.  My prices weren't sky high, but my profit was somewhere in the 80% mark.  One of the spaces I'm looking at is a shopping center that is still under construction.  From the way it reads, the leasing agent would be able to accommodate for my needs (layout, sinks, vent hood, etc) during construction for whatever their terms are, I haven't spoken with him yet.  But I for SURE would never ever sign a lease until I was 1000000% sure of every little detail going into this.  This specific building would be $1,900 a month for 1200 sq ft.

 

And I apologize that you had to copy and paste :/  I tried searching the forums for something similar to my question, but couldn't find any thread from a home baker transitioned to a store front owner

 

Glad to help! Please let me know if you have any other questions or anything else I can help with! I certainly don't have all the answers, but if I can help someone navigate the craziness of a storefront, I will!

No worries about the copy and paste, it wasn't hard to find. Besides, I'm bored at work and it gave me something to do! :-D

Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveMeSomeCake615 View Post
 

Bottom line- a storefront is worlds away from a home bakery, so realize how much more work it will be, and that all that money you are making off of cakes now will go right back into the shop for a while.... 

Truly not trying to be a dream crusher here! :smile: I just want to make sure anyone who is contemplating a bakery knows what they are getting themselves into.

 

I understand your excitement, I just hope you can mix in a dose of reality. If things are going that well and you have plenty of business with little competition, I'm not sure I understand why you're thinking about moving to a storefront. Trust us here, it's not what you think it will be. LoveMeSomeCake did a great job of filling in a few details. Another factor you need to consider is the chance that your husband will be relocated again. If that happens, even if you can sell your business, you will not be able to recoup all the money you spent putting it together. 

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post #7 of 39
Thread Starter 

I guess the hardest part is determining the value of "worth".  Is it WORTH it?  And this is where I'll get mixed reviews, haha.  I've talked to a few of my own friends who own bakeries that you can tell wish they could have done it differently and then others who wouldn't trade it for anything.  Not sure if its a personality thing or a secret to success! haha! 

Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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post #8 of 39

grossing $4k a month is not a recipe for supporting a $2k rent--not even close--then add on the utilities and the payment on the costs of the initial build out--plus plus plus

 

you would need to ramp this up considerably to make it work--

 

there's a good reason four other businesses didn't make it--i'd research that too--i'd contact each one--

 

if you're having a good time at what you're doing--there's nothing wrong with keepin' on doing that--

 

good luck

bad artists copy, good artists steal
pablo picasso

 

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bad artists copy, good artists steal
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post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix View Post
 

If things are going that well and you have plenty of business with little competition, I'm not sure I understand why you're thinking about moving to a storefront.

Agreed. Really think about the reasoning behind this, if you truly feel like having a storefront will add to your business, or just add to your workload. See the difference? Even if it would increase your sales by 50%, how much of that money would you actually see, and how much would go towards your now exponentially greater overhead? It's not to say it's never successful (obviously it works for some people!), but you just really have to count the cost.

Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
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post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenSadler View Post
 

I've talked to a few of my own friends who own bakeries that you can tell wish they could have done it differently and then others who wouldn't trade it for anything.

 

Just how many friends of yours own bakeries? ... Virtual friends or real life friends? I ask this second question because what people put on the internet is not always accurate.

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post #11 of 39
I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I certainly will discourage anyone and everyone from doing it!

If you are noot prepared to work 24/7 for years and have no lifa at all then go for it.

I was never a home baker - it's illegal where I live (thank goodness!)
post #12 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis View Post
 

grossing $4k a month is not a recipe for supporting a $2k rent--not even close--then add on the utilities and the payment on the costs of the initial build out--plus plus plus

 

you would need to ramp this up considerably to make it work--

 

there's a good reason four other businesses didn't make it--i'd research that too--i'd contact each one--

 

if you're having a good time at what you're doing--there's nothing wrong with keepin' on doing that--

 

good luck

Sorry, I wasn't too clear, I meant that there are only 4 other bakeries in town because this is a small town, and the ones that are here don't have a great reputation that they have made for themselves, whether it be that their product doesn't taste well, customer service, or hiring employees, not cake artists, to put it nicely.  

Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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post #13 of 39
I own a retail bakery and I sell custom cakes. I work alone. My place is has no passing traffic (foot nor transport). I rely a lot on word of mouth for my business and I only advertise on 1 wedding website. I decided to go from hobby to storefront business when I left my stock market job (selling from home is illegal in Spain). Luckily, my pay off was enough for me to build out an empty location and support myself for 2 years approx.

That was 3.5 years ago and things are going well for me - meaning that I have not had to close although I have seen other like businesses fail. I know that their product was not up to scratch though. I work 12 hours a day at the shop (I don't close at lunchtime - takes me 5 mins to eat a sandwich if I'm not interrupted, get on CC if I have another spare few minutes). I have a 30 min commute. After I close, a couple of times a week I have to go to the wholesalers and get supplies. I get home and answer emails and order supplies online. Have dinner with hubs, watch some TV if I can stay awake, go to bed.

It is frustating that people come in usually just as I've rolled out my fondant to put on a cake, but I went in knowing that that was something I would have to deal with. Again, I don't sell much retail since I am not in a prime location (although my address is), so it doesn't happen too often.

On Sundays and Mondays I do not open for the public but teach classes, which is a great way of increasing your income. Basically I am at my place 7 days a week.

So yes, no life except the caking one at the moment! I want to grow a bit more before hiring anyone else to help out. Being a control freak doesn't help but someone to make buttercream and cupcakes and brownies and wash the dishes would be fabulous in the near future!

There is a blog called The Business of Baking, and she has some very interesting blogs about whether or not you should "take the plunge", I really recommend it.

I don't know if I've helped, but good luck with whatever you decide to do!
post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix View Post
 

 

Just how many friends of yours own bakeries? ... Virtual friends or real life friends? I ask this second question because what people put on the internet is not always accurate.

Actual friends; one of them being my former boss at the bakery I first started at :)  Another being a young girl who bought out a bakery going out of business (retiring - not due to lack of sales).  I've also spoken with a few other bakery owners back in the other town I lived in just to see what they had to say, and most of them wouldn't recommend it, either.  So unfortunate :/  Cheesy as it is, the motto "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" has been about 90% accurate working from home, it just sucks having to turn customers away because it feels like I'm outgrowing my kitchen when I'm super busy, like during wedding season.  There are no commercial kitchens here for rent, either.  So theres no middle, here.  

Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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post #15 of 39

oh oh oh -- gotcha -- sorry i misunderstood --

 

still i do have one other question that you just answer for yourself--the $200 you invest to make the $800 (per $1,000) --the 80% you make --is that 20% your out of pocket expense -- the amount of money you spend at  the grocery store and cake store only?

 

because you still need to add in your overhead like utilites and household things like paper towels, dish soap, gas and time, etc? or is the 20% just out of pocket expense--

 

oh and oops thought of one other question ;)

 

in your small town, there's enough market for five brick and mortar bakeries? all the households in san angelo are also your competition because of cottage law of course so lots to weigh and man i wish you the very best--

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

different subject---

 

i was selling some doughnut filling equipment and i actually had a potential buyer in san angelo tx--so i was all over google maps looking up the addresses of bakeries to be sure my buyer was legit--just an interesting aside that i've been lightly researching bakeries in your town --lol

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

best of the best to you!

bad artists copy, good artists steal
pablo picasso

 

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bad artists copy, good artists steal
pablo picasso

 

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