The Fresh Loaf

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tips needed for opening small artisan bakery

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shericyng's picture
shericyng

tips needed for opening small artisan bakery

I have recently moved to a small town badly in need of a good bakery!  I was planning to open something 5-10 years down the road, but figured why wait?!  BUT - I don't know where to start on the business end to get everything ready (gosh... I just want to bake!).  

Anyone have any helpful ideas for starting up?  Any recommendations for a good oven?  I am trying to find one used, but it must have a steam injection capability.  I've got flour, water, salt, and yeast... now what?! :)   Tips, personal experiences, places to start, etc greatly appreciated!  Look forward to bringing my addiction to this carb starved town. 

leekohlbradley's picture
leekohlbradley

Step one is calculating how many loaves you need to sell a day for it to be worthwhile. Then think how you're going to sell that number. 

Azazello's picture
Azazello

You could start now by offering your bread to people you get to know in your local community, see what bread they like and what they don't. See how it goes from there.

EDIT  I would imagine that you would need more than one income stream for your business to make it worthwhile - sandwiches, supply local restaurants, sell at multiple outlets and so on. As others say, you will need to sit down and work out whether there is a business there for you, and a vital part of that is assessing likely demand, as well as controlling costs. Pursue your dream, but do it pragmatically. Best of luck.

 

leekohlbradley's picture
leekohlbradley

Yeah, a la www.weekendbakery.com

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Some years ago, on a ride across the country, I stopped by in Fergus Falls at a little bakery for coffee and conversation about the owner's experience.  Look him up at Falls Bakery, Fergus Falls, MN.  See if he'll talk to you.  He did what you want to do.  He started a tiny bakery in a small town.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Most businesses-even run by the most passionate people- fail in the first 2 years and usually because there is no plan. You have a great idea and the drive to do it but start the learning curve on how to do it successfully. Be open to networking, as suggested, and take advantage of Technical schools and small business organizations in your area, as well as the local Chamber of Commerce. It could be there USED to be a bakery there-seek out former owners and customers. Talk to the seniors at the local senior center as a great source of info-it cold be a good place to sample out your products,too.

Good Luck! Passion is a great start but knowledge will keep you going.

 

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

Perhaps before you commit to a retail rent overhead you could try selling at the farmers market first, while you get to understand the process of commercial artisan baking on a daily basis.

In software development of a new product we have the saying "fail early", which means do the minimum you possibly can to test and see if there's a market and if you have the right product. Then iterate from there, driven by market feedback. Better to find out that your community doesn't care for (e.g.) croissants with a $2000 investment than after a $20000 investment.

If there's a coffee shop in town, you might be able to supply them too. So start with wholesale before committing to retail.

Good luck, keep us informed with how it's going.

Les

PastryPaul's picture
PastryPaul

I love small town bakeries, we are now up to 5 of them. Problem is, we opened 11. Three closed, three were sold once we saw that we would not get the sales we wanted/needed. A lot of good ideas have been posted already.

The idea of failing early is a great one. The fact that there is no local bakery could mean a great opportunity, or it could simply mean that there is no need for one. Ex: One of our closed locations passed everything we could think of and seemed like a sure thing. Two months in, with sales in the toilet, we find out that there was a big local baking club. We thought there was no competition, instead we had hundreds of competitors making their own stuff.

If you can get your toes wet without diving right in, do it. Look into in-store possibilities. We have a bakery located inside a butcher shop. We share traffic and checkout staff and kick back a percentage of our sales as rent.

If allowed by local authorities you may be able to bake at a church kitchen  (or similar, I'm looking at a new spot were we would use a seniors' home kitchen during their off hours) and sell via a small counter or even a table within another business.

Don't expect to live on bread sales alone. For each $1000 a month you need in income, you need to sell about 400 baguettes (400X$3 - Cost of Goods), that's about 20 a day just to make $1000. If you need to make $3000, that's 60 baguettes a day, unlikely in a small town. Definitely look into other revenue streams, coffee, deserts, sandwiches, soups, etc. (I know, you will sell more breads than just baguettes, but let's face it, bread is not exactly high-ticket stuff)

Regarding your equipment questions: Right now that is the least of your worries. First you need to figure out if there is an actual market, and if so, is it big enough to support you?

Cheers