Why Bakers Nook Had To Transform To Survive
Almost every business in the world had to ask itself when the Coronavirus pandemic started and lockdowns were introduced: “how are we going to survive?” Brian and Anne Shockley, the husband and wife team behind the Baker’s Nook, decided that they were going to survive by transforming their pastry supply and cake making business on the west side of Saline into also being coffee and donut shop.
“We had to learn how to be in the restaurant business within a week or two, how to sign up the supply chain and so on. Anne had to learn how to scale up and learn how to feed 50 people a day. That is a big undertaking,” Brian said. He added that their experience “has been like going from being a generalized doctor to being a brain surgeon in a month.”
The business still has row after row of cupcake holders’ pastry appliers and specialized ingredients. Cakes are still made to order in the back. But once you walk into the business on the west side of Saline, you will find a counter selling everything from coffee to glazed donuts, to soups and sandwiches.
Behind that counter, Brian does most of the selling of their wares to customers. Anne then handles the majority of the production, with their five staff members filling in on helping them both.
“One of the great things that came out of it was how loyal our customer base is. Without them, we would be nothing. Some of them come in four or five times a week. We have a very loyal customer base. Not a lot of companies have that,” Anne said.
The coffee and pastries sold to customers allowed them to survive in an era where in person shopping and parties weren’t possible. Even now that vaccinations are up and life is trying to return to normal, the counter represents the bulk of their current business. According to the Shockley’s, they went from making cakes for about 125 weddings per year to only seven this year.
“It’s nice to have another option. I grew up in Saline and there was always [just] one place to go. With Baker’s Nook here, there’s more variety to pick from. Everything I’ve bought here has been great,” Brenda Knight, a customer, said.
The menu is seasonal. This is partially due to supply chain issues creating a somewhat random assortment of what they can offer, and partially to reflect the owner’s mood.
“Every week is like an episode of Chopped. I make a menu, then I go out shopping and I can’t find half of the ingredients, so I have to change my menu when I get back,” Anne said.
There are still problems. Both reported working 80 hour weeks, dealing with supply chain issues and having a lack of qualified staff. But they are surviving. Food now makes up the majority of their business, but they plan on keeping the supply store part of the store for the future as well.