How Long Were You @ Home Before Getting A Storefront?

Business By mom2spunkynbug Updated 14 Sep 2008 , 11:32pm by loriemoms

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mom2spunkynbug Posted 10 Sep 2008 , 4:41pm
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I'm currently a licensed at-home baker. I'm getting more & more anxious to open a shop soon because NO ONE around here does what I do.

There is one bakery but they are way old fashioned and also make breads & tons of other stuff for local small restaurants, etc. They say they specialize in wedding cakes but they really don't LOL

I'd like to hear from previous at-home bakers, now shop owners...

How long were you in business at home before moving in to a shop?

How many cakes (on average) were you making per week/per month before you decided to move into a shop?

How much money were you bringing in (not including expenses) before you decided to move into a shop? (You can pm me this if you don't want to answer here.)

And approximately how much money should I have before even thinking about getting a shop? (I know I'd need a loan too)

I want to do this soon (my heart wants to), but I know it won't happen for a while (my wallet won't let me LOL).

I don't have tons of orders right now...a good amount though. And I think that having a shop would allow the rest of the world see me, know what I mean? There are several places available for rent right now on main strips & it's just killing me! lol

Thanks for any info you'd like to share with me!

7 replies
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mom2spunkynbug Posted 11 Sep 2008 , 3:09am
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Is there anyone out there who had a home business before getting a store/shop?

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indydebi Posted 12 Sep 2008 , 12:03am
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The actual answer is I made cakes off and on for 25 years before I opened a shop. What I refer to as 'the resurrection' of this biz occured 4 years before I opened the shop.

The cost will depend on what you're going to. I probably spent more on equipment than most, because I also do catering .... you probably won't need an $8000 hood and a $7500 commercial dishwasher with a $1000 heat booster, or a $1700 food warmer cabinet or an $800 deep fryer. I also have a 6 burner/2 oven gas stove that I can't recall what I paid for that. Dont' forget to find out up front if you need that $1000 grease trap or not. Grand total spent on equipment was $48,000.

The shop was an empty box with a bathroom. I had to pay for trenching thru concrete for the water lines, which is really expensive. Construction estimate was $12-15,000. Actual cost ended up being $28,000.

The decision to move to a shop, while it was always the goal, was not determined by how much money I was bringing in ... it was determined by how busy I got and how the home kitchen just wasn't able to handle that kind of volume. Home kitchens are just not designed to handle commercial volume .... they are designed for little family dinners and the once-in-awhile birthday cake.

Regardless of when or how you open the shop, it is very important to have some kind of advertising and marketing plan. Yes, "If you build it they will come" .... but they have to know where you are, first! icon_wink.gif

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mom2spunkynbug Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 4:20pm
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Thanks so much for your response!! icon_biggrin.gif

I just got my home kitchen licensed in January 2007. I didn't do much that year. This year I'm doing more (did my first wedding cake in June), and have done 6 more since then and have two more this month...along with some birthday cakes.

What's getting hard is doing more than one cake per week. The time and space is becoming a problem.

Also, at the beginning of the year I became a member of a local wedding referral company, which includes their annual bridal expo. I also have a website. I think with a storefront, people will be able to find me/know about me much better. (I actually had a tasting yesterday where the bride found me, she lives in Pennsylvania. The mom, who lives in my city, said that she never even knew about me & she'd never seen me around, and it if weren't for her daughter giving her my website she would've never known!)

What I want to do at the shop is just cakes and cupcakes. Although dh has another plan, LOL, he thinks I should also do little things like brownies, cookies, coffee, donuts, fudge, etc. I said "Great - YOU can do all that other stuff!" I think that Charm City Cakes & Pink Cake Box have a great idea of having a shop, but also being "by appointment only." But I can see dh's point & think it would be good to have some other things available on a daily basis. I think, in my city, people are more inclined to SEE a new business, and say "oh, cool, let's check that out." Right now, if they haven't been to a bridal show, or looked me up online, they don't know about me.

I'd like something small right now (I mean, you should see the size of my home'd probably die! LOL), so anything outside of the home would be great. There is an old bakery building available (has been available forever) in a GREAT location. There is a problem though...I don't know who made the plans for the building, but the way it was built was not smart - it's so close to the road, that cars have actually crashed into it! I can SO see that in the winter! So there would DEFINITELY have to be some renovation/demolition or something to that building and that could be costly. But there are other places I see throughout the city that are for rent in good locations all the time.

I also don't want to end up LIVING at this place, kwim? I have a 6 & 10 year old. But dh & I talked about hours of business too, so we could try to avoid that.

Thanks so much for talking with me about this!

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leah_s Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 4:30pm
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Nine years and I'm still at home in a licensed kitchen. I do up to 6 weddings a week and assorted birthday and special occasion cakes to fill it the gaps. I have a pretty good website, if I do say so myself, and am in a major wedding referral group that puts on two wedding shows a year. I'll also do 4-6 other wedding shows a year.

Every so often I think about moving out,but then I look at the financials and can't figure out why I want to pay for commercial auto insurance, rent, higher rates for utilities, etc.

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indydebi Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 4:42pm
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I had a website for over 4 years before I finally plunked down the money to pay to have it optimized (so I show up on the first page when a bride enters a search for "caterers indianapolis"). Wow, was that the best $1200 I ever spent!!! Macy's Dept store in St. Louis found me and I've done 2 jobs for them at their local stores ... a local technical college found me via a general search and I'm doing their graduation ceremony next week with 1800 cookies. I ask every single client "how did you find me?" and more and more of the answers are coming back as the general search thing.

Home or storefront, I recommend putting money aside to be able to optimize your site.

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kellertur Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 5:04pm
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Originally Posted by mom2spunkynbug

I'm currently a licensed at-home baker.

This was a great question ~ I'm also a lisenced at-home baker (only in this state they call us: "Home Food Processors" ) While I have no intention of ever opening a shop (overhead, etc), I'm appreciate you posting this question. icon_smile.gif

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loriemoms Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 11:32pm
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We keep toying with the idea of a storefront and have had some good opportunities come our way. But I look at the money involved and run scared. You can't run a store front by yourself, you have to hire not only help, but to watch the front, watch things while you are away, etc etc. We keep playing with the idea of flex space, but a build out will cost so much. So I just keep plugging away at home. I also do 4-6 weddings a week and some celebration cakes to fill in gaps. A large part of my business is repeats and people who had my cake at a wedding and now want me to do their wedding. I do two bridal shows a year, and they bring me lots of business. I have my web site, but spend very little on advertising..I cant take any more volume until I do get a flex space or store front, and there I am again, back where I started! Open a commerical space! haha!

I am also going to opening a "sub" business of just Adult Cakes, with a different name and everything, as people just can't image someone who can do a beautiful pure wedding cake can do a raunchy adult cake too. hahaha!

Anyway, do make sure you really really really are willing to go into lots of debt and the risks and really want to make cakes before dumping a lot of money in it. In my area alone, I have seen three very very good bakeries go out of business this past year...1 of them I know she went under because well, she just didn't know what she was doing as far as business, the other was too trendy and the 'newness' wore off, and the other was for cheesecake and people are just not buying just a piece of cheesecake anymore when gas is 5 dollars a gallon! I think she would have made it if she had tapped into other parts of the do be open to do more then just cake and cupcakes!! (cupakes are HOT now but I think like cookies,they will die off too eventually)

Good luck and keep us posted!

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