Storefront Diaries: The Journey Continues

I know this is supposed to be a tale of opening a storefront bakery, but what if I were to tell you it has really been about a journey of pursuing dreams?! I don’t know about you, but my dreams and goals change, a lot. Not because I am an indecisive person, but because I have other priorities that are far more important, and which force me to mold my dreams and goals in and around them. Or maybe I am just telling you this because it is the only thing I can say to make myself feel better about my situation? The way I see it, we have two choices: we can be bitter about life getting in the way of our dreams, or we can embrace the chaos and work around it. I choose to embrace.

I also try not to dwell on the fact that my very first offer on a storefront fell through. (Read all about that episode here.) Instead, I dwell on all that has been learned in that process: how to write a business plan; what makes a small business successful; how to find a reliable contractor; how to present an offer to a lessor . . . and a great deal about myself.

I also see my current lack of storefront as temporary, and what works for me right now. Why? Children, for one . . . three of them, actually. The longer I had to think about what exactly I was getting myself into, the more frightened I became. Not because I was afraid of the risk of failing at a new business, but because I was afraid of failing my children. They are still so young, and I didn’t want what little time I had left with them during their young lives to be spent elsewhere. That honestly scared me more than anything. I could never gain back that time.

Still, I needed to do something about my current in-home work situation (lack of room, cross-contamination issues, and so on). Funny how ideas come to you out of desperation. When this adventure began, my husband and I discussed several options other than a storefront, but they were just downright unappealing. However, once I was between a rock and a hard place, one of those options started looking better and better! If I couldn’t have a storefront right away, maybe we could take existing space within our home and use it exclusively for a business bakery?! All appliances and wares would be mobile, so I could just take them with me into any future storefront, and we would still have an extra room to use however we pleased. 

Our back porch never really served much purpose to us. That is, unless you count the 20 chickens that used this area to escape the oppressive midday heat, or my old horse that enjoyed the ceiling fan as reprieve from a zillion flies. I love my animals, but this seemed like such a waste of space. The porch is approximately 400 square feet and could easily be transformed into something great! It was definitely worth a phone call to a contractor to get an estimate.

In a previous article, I talked about contractors at length and shared with you the two (very different) bids I received. My gut told me to call the lowest bidder. Not because he was the cheapest, but because I liked him and he was willing to work with us on every aspect of the build-out. The highest bidder was not so willing. I followed my gut and called my new contractor friend, Walter. He immediately came out and, within an hour, I received a new bid of $6,000 to build out the back porch.

Here is a breakdown of what was needed:

  • Two walls
  • New ceiling with insulation
  • Fan
  • Molding
  • Large French door
  • Cedar siding
  • One large window
  • Air conditioning unit
  • Water source
  • Electricity 
  • Oven cabinet
  • Concrete stain

If you were ever worried about this contractor (who charged me thousands of dollars less than the other), you needn't have been. Not only did he do a good job, but he exceeded my expectations in quality and gave me exactly what I wanted. The best part was: he finished the entire build-out in less than two months.

Now, we did wind up having to spend more than the original $6,000 estimate, but only because there were some adjustments made on my end, which caused the cost to go up. And obviously we spent even more on commercial appliances.

In short, if a contractor has a license and good references, and gives you a super low estimate, don’t be afraid to shake hands and make a deal! I assure you, I am not disappointed.

So without further ado, here are some photos of the build-out:

Back Porch - BeforeBack porch, before. We didn't care much about this space, but the animals sure did!

Porch - AfterAfter build-out.

Completely different right?! Tell me you're not in love? I know I am! [EDITOR'S NOTE: Whoa, what a transformation! I am definitely in love!]

Three-Basin SinkCommercial three-basin sink. Please excuse the dishes.

Back Porch OutsideCedar siding added to the outside of the house.

Well, that's a wrap! I hope you have enjoyed reading about my journey thus far and, above all, I hope you have been able to take something away from this adventure. Thank you for listening and for all of the encouragement.

Rebecca Litterell is owner of Litterelly Delicious Cakery. She started decorating cakes for family and friends in 2006 and eventually incorporated cookies into the mix in 2011. She is completely self-taught and passionate about teaching her skill and know-how to others, both online and in the cake and cookie classes that she hosts at her local community college. Before cakes and cookies, Rebecca spent most of her career in the medical field. She is a mother of three and a wife, and loves living in the country. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s riding her horses.
 
Photo credit: Rebecca Litterell

NoteStorefront Diaries is a monthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Rebecca Litterell that chronicles her journey of opening up a brick-and-mortar business after years of baking out of her home. Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Rebecca's past Cookie Connection posts here.

 

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This is great to see!!! I've got a space in the basement that I KNOW can be my kitchen...I've just got to get the details together to find out if it's worth it to me. Ditto to all the reasons for having an in-home bakery! Congrats, Rebecca! Love the space...happy baking!

Your new space is fabulous!  I really enjoyed reading about your journey.  I do have a question, now that you have that space devoted to your business are the cottage food laws still the same for you?  Or will you now be able to ship, do resale and such?  I have these obstacles as well.  I'm also not allowed to have anyone else work in the business unless they live in my home.  I'm finding myself with some of the same issues you were facing working from your kitchen.

 

That looks great - I really like the effect having moveable appliances and cabinets gives. What a great space! But now I'm wondering about the animals...where will they go to escape the heat and the flies? I'm picturing them at the French doors, gazing mournfully in at you as you decorate...

What an awesome space!  Thanks for sharing your journey with us.  I had the same thought as Lucy and can picture all those little furry and feathered faces with their noses or beaks pressed against the glass.  Good Luck and Enjoy!

Your space is fantastic!  I have enjoyed reading about your journey.  Putting a second kitchen in my home is what I would have loved to do in order to spend more time at home with my children, but my town would not allow it.  So like you said, instead of being bitter and dwelling on it, I found a kitchen to rent and for now it works.  

Rebecca, I'm so happy and proud of your resolution and success.  

You must have ample land for the animals to retreat.  (I didn't know you had animals - chickens, horse, etc.  I saw a cat.  lol)  (Still laughing at a few comments...)

So you will only ship cookies?  No one will come to your home for pick up?

Love the 3-bay sink!  Love the entire kitchen design/set-up.

Well, touche!  I wish only the best for you.

That is SO exciting!  Congratulations, Rebecca!  That space is just perfect.  What an amazing transformation.  

 

Did you encounter any issues with your town's zoning ordinances?  I know that in my town, I could not add a bakery onto my house because my street is "strictly residential."  Was this an issue you had to investigate before building?

 

Best wishes. Some of us must take hard desitions. Children will grow in short time to give you more time for you and your dreams. Maybe they could share your dreams and help you to achieve your dreams toghether.  Beautiful kitchen I wish I could get one like that.

Perfectly done! All of the necessities and I am with you on the child part! That is exactly why I sell cookies..it enables me the flexibility for my most prized possessions. Bravo for taking the leap...that is another step towards a very successful future! Best wishes for your continued success!! (PS. I am SUPER DUPER jealous that you get to ride horses when you're not baking!!!...that would be my dream come true!!)

Thanks! I guess they will have to hang out in the grass like all the other "normal" animals!
They are not happy, that is for sure!
 
Originally Posted by Fernwood Cookie:

Nice! Now what ever will your animals do?

 

 

Excellent question, Lisa!
 
Since I am still operating out of my home, I still have to abide by my state's cottage food laws; shipping and items for resale will still be prohibited. I honestly stay so busy with local custom orders that I would probably have to turn them down anyways, if it were allowed.
I am allowed to hire help but I haven't gotten that far. That will be an adventure in and by itself!
Thank you for your support and kind words!
 
Originally Posted by Lisa Petrizzi-Geller:

Your new space is fabulous!  I really enjoyed reading about your journey.  I do have a question, now that you have that space devoted to your business are the cottage food laws still the same for you?  Or will you now be able to ship, do resale and such?  I have these obstacles as well.  I'm also not allowed to have anyone else work in the business unless they live in my home.  I'm finding myself with some of the same issues you were facing working from your kitchen.

 

 

Thank you, Lucy! The animals are far from pleased. Maybe I can talk the hubby into making them their own little bungalow.
 
Originally Posted by Lucy (Honeycat Cookies):

That looks great - I really like the effect having moveable appliances and cabinets gives. What a great space! But now I'm wondering about the animals...where will they go to escape the heat and the flies? I'm picturing them at the French doors, gazing mournfully in at you as you decorate...

 

We have so many animals! Might as well call us a farm (or zoo); two horses, 24 chickens, 3 cats, 2 dogs...there may be more ha!
No shipping. I will be doing the same custom order-type work, just out of the new kitchen.
Thank you!
 
Originally Posted by donaharrisburg:

Rebecca, I'm so happy and proud of your resolution and success.  

You must have ample land for the animals to retreat.  (I didn't know you had animals - chickens, horse, etc.  I saw a cat.  lol)  (Still laughing at a few comments...)

So you will only ship cookies?  No one will come to your home for pick up?

Love the 3-bay sink!  Love the entire kitchen design/set-up.

Well, touche!  I wish only the best for you.

 

Thank you, Christine!
 
No, no issues at all! I think we lucked out because we are not in city limits. I see that changing in the next couple of years though. Our town is growing so fast that the city is coming out to us! Not sure what will happen then.
 
Originally Posted by Bakerloo Station:

That is SO exciting!  Congratulations, Rebecca!  That space is just perfect.  What an amazing transformation.  

 

Did you encounter any issues with your town's zoning ordinances?  I know that in my town, I could not add a bakery onto my house because my street is "strictly residential."  Was this an issue you had to investigate before building?

 

 

Thank you so much!
 
Horses are my therapy (next to cookies). Doesn't matter how bad my day is. I can get on my horse and live carefree!
 
Originally Posted by TheTailoredCookie:

Perfectly done! All of the necessities and I am with you on the child part! That is exactly why I sell cookies..it enables me the flexibility for my most prized possessions. Bravo for taking the leap...that is another step towards a very successful future! Best wishes for your continued success!! (PS. I am SUPER DUPER jealous that you get to ride horses when you're not baking!!!...that would be my dream come true!!)

 

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