Business Costs & Regulation

A Tasty Break From the Pandemic

This Ohio bakery has found creative ways to stay in business—and even thrive.

Profile

When did Ashley’s Pastry Shop open? We opened in June 1982 in Oakwood, a suburb of Dayton. At the time, I was pregnant with our first daughter, Ashley, so that’s where the name comes from.

What are your most-popular items? We make everything—doughnuts, Danish, muffins, cakes, cookies, breads. Our signature cookie is called a sand tart, a brown sugar cookie with meringue and cinnamon sprinkled on top. When actors Allison Janney, Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen (who are all from Dayton) were on The West Wing, they loved those cookies. They were served on the set for the cast and crew year after year.

How has the business grown over the years? We have been blessed. Initially, we had 12 employees, and now we have 17 full- and part-time workers. Dayton is a tremendous community to support our business. And food is something you can always celebrate with. From a new baby to a promotion at work, it is central to life’s special occasions and making memories.

Are revenues down for 2020? We have a retail side and a wholesale side, baking for restaurants, hotels and universities. The wholesale side has been down, but our retail side is actually up over 2019.

Did you apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan? We did apply for a PPP loan and successfully secured one in April 2020. We used the PPP financing to retain employees and hire new workers. Before the pandemic, I was a strong proponent of forging connections with our partners, and our relationship with our bank proved invaluable. Within a couple of days of our PPP loan being processed, our financing was available to us.

How have you adapted your business during the pandemic? Each and every day, we were reinventing the wheel, trying to figure out how we could continue to offer our products to customers. We offered curbside delivery and home deliveries. We’ve used social media to engage with people and link people to our website. We also created “Surprise Boxes” with treats to get people through the day, donating a box to first responders for each box that was sold. We did a similar offering with cookies for front-line workers.

Do you enforce mask wearing and social distancing at your bakery? From the beginning, all employees wore masks and gloves. We started with social distancing, limiting the number of people in the store at a time. And we’ve followed all of the CDC guidelines in order to keep our doors open.

How have customers reacted? I can count on one hand how many customers have resisted it. And if you don’t feel comfortable with the mask, we have other options. We’ll bring your order to your car. Or even your home. Families with younger children especially appreciate that.

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