Marianne Christy, owner of Christy’s Bakery & Produce, stands by her baked goods for sale at Garden Patch Market in Mishawaka. Her cookies are currently being sold at four locations throughout Michiana. Leader photo/ CRAIG HAUPERT

Cookie business on the rise

Published 8:17pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It didn’t take long for Marianne Christy to find out the maximum amount of cookies she could create in one day.

One-hundred dozen — or 1,200 — is how many the Edwardsburg small business owner, made, baked and delivered on a Monday in early September, a month after expanding Christy’s Bakery & Produce from her home to a shared commercial kitchen.

“It took us (my husband and I) about six or seven hours,” she said, “but it was a good thing because we had the opportunity to take a good look at our process.”

Christy began by selling baked goods at local farmer’s markets years ago but jumped into the retail market when she began utilizing the Niles Entrepreneurial & Culinary Incubator in August.

Her cookies are being sold in four Michiana locations.

“At the beginning, I didn’t have a clue this is what I could grow into — I never thought about the number — but I am comfortable with where I’m at right now,” she said.

Fear factor

The biggest challenge Christy has faced has nothing to do with making cookies. Christy had to get over the fear of convincing stores to order and sell her cookies.

“It is one thing to sell face to face with customer… it is another thing to walk into a store that doesn’t know you or your product and get an order from them,” she said.

“I remember that first time I got an order. After that, I was like I can do this and go anywhere now. It will be scary, but I can do it.”
Christy has yet to be turned down.

The Garden Patch (Mishawaka, Ind.) began selling her “just plain organic” cookies in August, while Apple Valley (Mishawaka) came on in September, Down to Earth (Granger, Ind.) in October and Roseland Organics (Dowagiac) this past weekend.

Christy also sells at the Purple Porch Co-op (South Bend, Ind.), Granger Farmers Market and French Market in Niles (when in season).

Steady growth

Christy’s goal is to grow at a comfortable pace, adding about one new business a month.

She bakes and delivers her cookies every Monday with the help of her husband.

She said she bakes an average of around 50 dozen cookies a week, although the size of orders fluctuate.

If business continues to grow, Christy said she would need to hire a part-time person to help with the baking. That would require her receiving a commitment from a store to order a certain amount of cookies each week, she said.

“We’d be hiring a cookie scooper,” she said.

Christy’s next challenge is finding a better way to transport her baked goods from the kitchen to the store. She has turned to the online funding platform, kickstarter.com, to raise money to purchase a trailer. Her project is called “in knead of more space.” People have pledged nearly $900 toward the $3,855 project so far.

 

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