Marianne Christy, owner of Christy’s Bakery & Produce, is about to place a fresh batch of organic oatmeal cookies into the oven Monday at the commercial kitchen offered through the Niles Entrepreneurial and Culinary Incubator. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Local baker breaks into retail cookies

Published 8:18pm Monday, August 20, 2012

The cookie business is far from crumbling for Edwardsburg’s Marianne Christy, owner of Christy’s Bakery & Produce.

For the past two years, Christy has developed a reputation — and steady base of customers — for her made-from-scratch organic oatmeal cookies, sold mostly at local farmers’ markets.

Christy’s goal was to someday see her cookies sold for retail. Her dream became a reality this week when she received an order for 18-dozen cookies from Garden Patch Market in Mishawaka, Ind.

On Monday, Christy was busy baking and placing the cookies into their packages, readying them to hit the Garden Patch Market shelves sometime today.

“When I got the order, I walked out and was like, ‘wow. I just got an order for cookies — woohoo!” Christy said. “I couldn’t believe I did it. I did everything I’ve been working so hard to do. It was an amazing feeling.”

A place to grow

Christy credits her move to the wholesale market to the use of a licensed, shared-use commercial kitchen offered through Niles Main Street’s Niles Entrepreneurial and Culinary Incubator (NECI).

Christy can bake 120 to 200 cookies an hour at the commercial kitchen, 219 Fourth St., Niles. At home, she could bake around 60 cookies an hour.

Christy can also advertise and sell her cookies online now that she is licensed. Prior to becoming licensed, Christy was operating under the Cottage Food Law.

“The sky’s the limit with this place, this kitchen,” Christy said. “I am the only one that can hold me back now.”

In addition to a commercial kitchen, NECI offers business planning and food production assistance; office and conference room space; and support in creating marketing plans.

Christy said she currently is the only person or company making use of the kitchen, which markets itself as ideal for farmers looking to develop value-added products, restaurant owners interested in producing dressings or sauces for retail and bakers and cooks.

The next step

With her first order about to hit the shelves, Christy said she is looking toward the future. The next step, she said, is to find a few more stores to sell her cookies on a consistent basis.

“Basically, I am going in with a bag of cookies and an order form and saying ‘how many would you like to order?” she said.

Christy is also keeping an eye on how well her cookies are selling at Garden Patch Market.

“Hopefully, they’ll call me on Thursday and say ‘all the cookies are gone and we need some more,’” she said. “It’s an exciting time.”

Christy will be at the Garden Patch Market, 228 W. Edison Rd., Mishawaka, from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 31 offering samples of her cookies.

She bakes 11 varieties of oatmeal cookies, all made from local, organic products. The ones on sale at Garden Patch Market are plain oatmeal, oatmeal cherry and oatmeal chocolate chip. You can still find her at local farmers’ markets, including the French Market in Niles.

For more information on Christy’s cookies, visit christysbakeryandproduce.biz.

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