Frustrated Baker Soon Opening In Pa.... Needs To Vent!

Business By Cakenicing4u Updated 26 Jan 2010 , 1:53am by Cakenicing4u

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Cakenicing4u Posted 17 Jan 2010 , 9:40pm
post #1 of 24

So... what a long uphill road this has been. I think some of you might remember me as that auction girl that got so much equipment at the auctions for so little... that was October, 2008 ish.

Jan 2009 I thought I had a location locked in. August of 2009 after setbacks and setbacks I gave up and started hunting for a new space. October 09 I found a new space that would be in a great area of town, and opening up in December--I'm a little bit worried about the bakery 8 doors down the block on the left, but after sampling the competition and scoping her out, talking to people, I decided to just do it-- After all, they put Burger Kings and McDonalds on the same block, and I already have a following. I was concerned but not worried too much for a variety of reasons.

Location is already zoned retail has a great open floor plan, yada yada.... after some dickering over the lease, I finally signed it Dec 30, 2009... I had the electric and gas turned on the first week of the year. I'm doing happy dances because it's finally coming together! Happy because I don't pay rent until all the work is done, and the equipment is in place AND I have all the approvals from each and every inspector.... My Happy Dances came to a crashing halt when the mailman gently informs me that 6 doors down on the other side, another bakery is opening... we turned our electric on at the same time and we were getting the same electric welcome packet.

Now I'm worried. I LIKE the person opening that bakery. I knew she was going to open-- but nobody knew that she was signing a lease the same day I was... and a block away from where I was.... That sucks. For a small town area, the fact that the zoning people couldn't let it slip that we were both moving in sucks. I mean, the odds of three bakeries making it in a one block space aren't that good, right?? That's not good for their business in the long run!

I feel so out of sorts right now. icon_cry.gificon_cry.gif I am now more terrified than I ever was about opening a business... but I signed the 3 year lease and started renovations and now I feel so stuck! I have a good following, and a lot of good things coming my way, like a huge article in the newspaper in March!! I made friends with many of the local business people, and a local Chocolate guy even offered me use of his walk-in should the power on my block ever go out! My friends and my family say I'll be fine-- but I'm sure that my competitor's families are telling them the same thing. Statistically, I still see a decent share of the business coming to me.... but one screw up and I'm done for!

I'm looking for ideas and suggestions on how to deal with this... opening a shop was stressful enough-- adding on a neighbor in the same position and now it's a race to the finish line! I DID call my new competitor and extend an olive branch to her.. and on the phone, i felt that it went well, but in person, not so well. Both of my competitors are retail, so I plan to offer a small retail selection.... and I'll bust my hump to make sure that my displays are incredible and contemporary... icon_rolleyes.gif and delicious... icon_wink.gif

and I could go on and on, but I think that's enough rambling... if I was talking that all would have come out it one long sentence, but for Doug, I broke it into paragraphs thumbs_up.gif

23 replies
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indydebi Posted 17 Jan 2010 , 9:50pm
post #2 of 24

Part of a business plan is to identify your competition and your plan on how to compete with them. What is it about your business that will make people come to you instead? Identify their strengths and weaknesses and your plan to combat both of those.

Think outside the cake box! thumbs_up.gif

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cownsj Posted 17 Jan 2010 , 9:51pm
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I read your post, and believe me I feel your fear. I didn't have a clue what to say to help you to feel better. Then I went and looked at your cakes.... Now, after having seen them, I have to ask, what competition? Your work is great and it will speak for itself. Plus, I think alot of people will simply be drawn to the allure of a "private" type bakery, where you need to make an appointment to have your "one of a kind" cake specially designed and made for only you. I still understand your fear, but you're looking good to me.

Where about in Pa. are you?

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redheadfairy2003 Posted 17 Jan 2010 , 10:02pm
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i agree with indy ..... I also looked at your pics and your cakes are great just hold your head up and have faith in what you do.

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Kitagrl Posted 17 Jan 2010 , 10:14pm
post #5 of 24

Depending on what part of the state you are in, I find also that there are a TON of people out there! So often, enough business to go around. And if you have a good web presence, keep in mind that people are going to find out about you BEFORE they know that there are two other bakeries on your street.

I'm a home baker in PA...lots of competition around here. I didn't find out for years there is another home baker just right down the street! And there are other bakers I know about, others I don't. Between home bakers and shop bakers, there's ALOT of decorators around here.

Anyway I feel like your web presence is going to be your biggest strength, if you can get that. The fact that you have three bakeries on one street may affect "walk in traffic" but it really should not affect the "consultations" nearly as much because they are going to find you via word of mouth, or online, or somewhere else before they actually go driving down the street.

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Cakenicing4u Posted 17 Jan 2010 , 10:27pm
post #6 of 24

I've got more fans on Facebook... (LOL) than my competitors....

I have 7 off-street easy access parking spots, which they don't...

I have support from other bakeries that I have worked for -- they send work to me that they can't or won't do...

My sister is a Marketing GURU... and she has pushed me into being an agressive Marketeur LOL.... needed the fancy spelling since it is hard work!

I bartered a wedding cake at cost for a professional graphic designer to build me a Logo and website... It's going to go active this week sometime.... In my photos, there's a blue topsy turvey cake that we used as the basis for my logo...

I need to get on Twitter and start tweeting....

I have an advertisement coming out in March with a local play-- it's with a photographer that I'm working with... he's going to drop in and take quality photos of my cakes as I make them to add to the website, and make prints for the shop at cost... I'm to refer couples to him in exchange.

I have DJ friends in the same position, setting us up for referrals...

I have 15 years experience in the grocery store and can decorate 10-12+ cakes an hour... 6 seconds to make a rose

My mama got me a cricut for Christmas =) My mama loves me!!

I got most of my equipment for nickels and dimes....

I'm joining the local Chamber of Commerce this week (Since work on the shop came to a halt until Tuesday and I've been there all day every day for a few weeks)

My realtor is on the board of the association of young professionals and he says I'm still young.... LOL

I've been planning this for two years... and I've had backup plans forming all along... Like if the bakery doesn't make it-- We'll turn it into a garage for my auto mechanic husband to work on cars... =D

I'm trying to stay positive but today it really hit me... thanks ladies!

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Mike1394 Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 12:03am
post #7 of 24



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sweetartbakery Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 2:20am
post #8 of 24

where are you in pa? I'm starting to build soon, hopefully not another block down from you. Ha! you sound like you really have it together though!!!

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YoCake Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 6:33am
post #9 of 24

Your cakes are gorgeous, and if they taste as great as they look, you will do awesome! I opened a very tiny shop in a very poor town in Ohio two years ago........and we really focused on customer service, making people feel welcome, and always offering cakes baked with the best ingredients and frostings. We did so well that people were traveling over to get the cakes...and we got so busy we had to open a larger location in a more commercial district. That is when things really started flying for us, and now I am busier than I can handle most days. There are 4 major bakeries around us, established much longer than us, and yet the phone rings and rings, even the week after new years. I would not worry if I were you. The baking business is supposedly recession-proof (people will cook for themselves, but not bake for themselves).
And for the lady down the street from you.......she actually may help your business. Because you are so close together, couples in the market for a wedding cake may gravitate to your area because there are two places to compare prices. It is going to be either you or her. If you were by yourself, those clients might opt to find another bakery closer to home. I am not sure if this is coming across well, but I wish you the best of luck all the same!!

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Cakenicing4u Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 3:07pm
post #10 of 24

Ding ding ding!! The lightbulb turned on last night!! My competitors focus solely on cakes..... I named my biz a BAKE SHOP because I wanted to do cookies and pies and whatnot.... So guess who is going to have a bunch of stuff other than cakes??? icon_wink.gif

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mkolmar Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 3:36pm
post #11 of 24

I think everything will work out for you in the end. Your just not lying on the floor saying what am I going to do, your being pro-active and taking the bull by the horns. You already have a back up plan in case it doesn't work out and that's a plus also.

For those who are reading this thread I want to tell them to check with their area often so something like this doesn't happen (hopefully they will tell you). I knew of a guy in are area that had a great pizza place open up. Within the first month there was road construction in front of his business that took over 5 months to complete. It really killed his business right from the start.
If possible try to check for other store openings in your area, road construction, crime, if there will be any projects planned near by that will cause detours....etc.

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CakeDiva10 Posted 20 Jan 2010 , 5:47pm
post #12 of 24

You have nothing to worry about by the looks of your cakes!!! They are absolutely gorgeous.....I am absolutely brand new to this forum and I am glad I found someone here from PA...could you email me offlist?? I have some questions to ask you about your business..... thumbs_up.gif


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rosiecast Posted 21 Jan 2010 , 8:34pm
post #13 of 24

Your cakes are wonderful. Best of luck to you. What's your facebook name?. I have friends and family in PA, so I'll become a fan.

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Cakenicing4u Posted 21 Jan 2010 , 8:45pm
post #14 of 24

I'd be happy to have more Facebook fans!

Facebook- Cakes by Diana Green, Sweet Addictions Bakery (my big page with over 300 fans
since I changed the title a bit--
try - Sweet Addictions Bake Shop, Cakes by Diana Green

Twitter- Cakenicing4u

Linkedin... Diana Green, Sweet Addictions Bakery

Myspace- Cakenicing4u

I think that covers it... LOL

Guess what??? There used to be a hugely popular bakery here in the area, and I often hear people say "I wish ******* was still here... their ___insert favorite item here___ were the best!"

My landlord is the BROTHER of the guy that ran THAT bakery!! He retired, but he's going to stop in and help me out!!!! thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

And the happy dances started again today! icon_biggrin.gif

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newmansmom2004 Posted 21 Jan 2010 , 8:57pm
post #15 of 24

To the OP, honey this is the opportunity of a lifetime. This is your moment to SHINE!!! Make your pastries and offerings the most delicious and delectable items that people will be standing in line waiting for the doors to open!

Don't let the competition get to you - rise above it and be the bakery in your area that people go to FIRST and repeatedly. If you let this get to you, you'll put yourself out of business long before anyone else will. You can't let that mindset of, "Oh no...another bakery!" be your downfall. Don't spend one more minute worrying about THEM and start making plans for what YOU will be doing to show your community that YOU are the best.


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GL79 Posted 21 Jan 2010 , 9:34pm
post #16 of 24

I think one of the most important steps in business is to advertise, advertise, advertise. Get your name out there, get your own website, register through Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, and if there's a professional organization for bakers join it. I find it easier to look up a local business online through the yellow pages.

Wish you the best!!!

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Sagebrush Posted 22 Jan 2010 , 12:29am
post #17 of 24

I honestly don't see a problem with having the 2 other bakeries in close proximity. I do not think a majority of your clientelle are going to be people just wandering along on the street and having to stand there figuring out which of those 3 cake shops to go in. Most people will be driving to your location and since they are already looking for YOU, the others won't matter.

Having close competition might be a boon to you as well... people coming to them might find they don't have what they want and wander over to you.

You've already identified numerous advantages you have over them. I think you'll do fabulous. You've REALLY thought this through and planned very well. You'll do great. Quit worrying.

- Leisel

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Cakenicing4u Posted 22 Jan 2010 , 12:40am
post #18 of 24

Phew... You guys sure know how to kick a person into gear... my friends were all saying the same thing, but it's harder to hear them, because they love me--no matter what!! MANY MANY MANY Thanks for the encouragement... Let me tell ya-- 1.5 years ago I felt like I could be the bomb-- but 1.5 years on unemployment is not easy on the ego!! I always have been my own worst critic... my own doubter, etc... and always the cheerleader for everyone else!!

I have so many new ideas, my brain needs to catch up to my ideas!

My landlord-- who doesn't know me from Joe, has full faith in me! I was worried that the changes would delay my opening, and therefore, his rent payments,.... the lease states that I don't pay rent until I throw my doors open to the public, with all necessary approvals, permits and renovations done. from the lease signing to the opening-- those weeks get tacked onto the END of the lease, so I won't be renewing during the holidays in a few years. PHEW. I was thinking he would be hounding me for the first payment, but NO-- he says DO IT... and DO IT RIGHT the first time!!

As for the wandering customers... It WILL happen in the area I'm opening... it's a Main Street type project with MANY many many little shops, all small businesses along the way-- everything from antiques to haute chocolatiers, High end designers, specialty shoes, cafes, restaurants, trinkets, girl stores, boy stores, record stores, etc--- so you park in one big lot and then wander the blocks when the weather is nice! I'm just going to have to stand out! that's the plan!

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Sagebrush Posted 22 Jan 2010 , 1:17am
post #19 of 24

Oh, I wasn't saying there wouldn't be walk-in customers from off the street. Only that your specialty cake clientelle will probably be driving in to see you specifically anyways.

And, you are already planning on offering pies and other goodies, so that she make you a bigger draw for the wanderers as well.

My point stands. You're going to do great.

- Leisel

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joenshan Posted 22 Jan 2010 , 10:03am
post #20 of 24

I agree with sagebush. Turn it into an opportunity. Perhaps invest in great signage that people will see on their way to the other places. If you think about it, you see this kind of thing a lot; like Jewelers Row in Philly or the Golden Mile in Springfield (long strip of car dealerships. I'm in Delaware County PA myself). Best of luck to you!

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newmansmom2004 Posted 22 Jan 2010 , 3:42pm
post #21 of 24
Originally Posted by Cakenicing4u

As for the wandering customers... It WILL happen in the area I'm opening... it's a Main Street type project with MANY many many little shops, all small businesses along the way-- everything from antiques to haute chocolatiers, High end designers, specialty shoes, cafes, restaurants, trinkets, girl stores, boy stores, record stores, etc--- so you park in one big lot and then wander the blocks when the weather is nice! I'm just going to have to stand out! that's the plan!

This sounds like a really fun place to explore for an afternoon!

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cakedout Posted 22 Jan 2010 , 4:18pm
post #22 of 24

Hey're not far from me! I'm down here near Lancaster! As much as I hate traveling around Reading, I'd love to come check out your new shop!

Best wishes to you- I think you'll do GREAT!! thumbs_up.gif

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Cakenicing4u Posted 22 Jan 2010 , 4:23pm
post #23 of 24

Caked out- I hope to see you someday! I LOVE your quote-- it fits me to a T right now!!

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Cakenicing4u Posted 26 Jan 2010 , 1:53am
post #24 of 24

Many thanks to those who have emailed me and to those that are watching this thread....

If only you knew some of my other obstacles... LOL... Even my cousin said recently "I have no idea how she stays so positive and upbeat with everything going on!" The short short story is-- I have an exchange student again this year, (#4) and she's been a challenge... My Mom and Dad are having some medical issues, and they couldn't drive for a few months, so I was helping them too... and I work part time, and have 14 dogs at home (don't ask) (wait, 8 of them are for sale-- 9 week old BASSELL puppies, for those around here!!)... . Phew. What helps me? 'perky' music, supportive family and friends, inspirational movies and books- I think I've burned out "The Pursuit of Happiness" on my ipod!! Also, it's things like Haiti that help bring things into perspective. It could be worse... so much worse! SO WHAT? So another bakery opens a few doors down... sounds so minor compared to what other beans are going through!

I'll try to keep you updated now and again... but feel free to find me on facebook, twitter or SOON, on my website... =)

Many many thanks again, for the ideas, the support, the butt kicking and the emails... it all adds up!

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