Bakers filled seminar halls seeking solutions to jump-start bakery sales in a scaled down expo.
More than 100 volunteers from Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte, N.C., and Retail Bakers of America (RBA) member bakeries contributed their time and skills to help Buddy Valastro, Jr. of Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, N.J. and television's Cake Boss (TLC network) create a life-sized replica of a stock race car using nothing but cake, crispy rice treats and fondant. The finished cake weighed about 20,000 lbs. and cost $20,000 in mostly donated materials. A remarkable 2,400 half sheet cakes were used.
The model passed the looks test, even next to the real thing, after the actual #18 NASCAR car, sponsored by Joe Gibbs Racing, roared into the exhibit hall and found its place between the RBA booth and the car cake construction.
But the automotive spectacle wasn't the only thing on attendees mind at the American Retail Baking Exposition. A full complement of seminars, demonstrations, hands-on classes, contests and awards rounded out the October event.
Bakery's online component
Educational sessions included a strong focus on web-based ideas and techniques to improve bakery businesses. Direct e-mail marketing is a tool that is geared toward staying in front of your customers, and Anissa Freeman Starnes, regional development director of email marketing company Constant Contact, presented solutions for doing so.
“Email marketing lets you target exactly who you want to reach, and as often as you want to reach them,” she said. “You don't waste money on unlikely prospects. With email marketing, you can send messages to match your customers interests.” The hurdle with e-mail marketing is list development and list maintenance. Internet-savvy bakers can create and maintain contact lists on their own, or to save time, they can contract email marketing companies to create professional looking emails and access to a variety of informative statistics — for a fee, of course.
Stephen Mackey of Mesh Multimedia also was on hand to demonstrate the power of Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites. The session demonstrated the vast marketing potential social media has, and illustrated how much is still untapped by bakers.
‘Extras’ can boost sales
Bakeries can tack on sales by offering products that complement their product lines. For example, Cold Spring Bakery, Cold Spring, Minn., offers jars of baking mixes. “You have all the ingredients you already need in the bakery,” said Cold Spring's Kathy Sanquist, co-presenter of “Non-traditional Baked Items to Add to Your Product Line.” St. Agnes Bakery, St. Paul, Minn., sets aside the first Saturday of every month to open a cafe in the bakery, which includes “extras,” such as cookbooks and utensils. “People view the extra as a different purchase,” said St. Agnes' Dan “Klecko” McGleno, co-presenter. “If they have decided they will only spend $30, they will spend $21 on kolaches and $22 on cookbooks because they view them as two separate purchases.”
Second class of RBA Emeritus Award winners announced
The Retail Bakers of America (RBA) revealed its second class of Emeritus Members in Charlotte. The Emeritus Award honors those who have made a difference in the industry through a lifetime of work. Retired or semi-retired members of the baking industry are eligible and must be nominated by a member of the RBA board of directors.
The 2009 Emeritus inductees are Joel Greenspan, allied member, Matawan, N.J.; Hans and Minerva Nadler, Nadler's Bakery and Delicatessen, San Antonio; Karl Reisterer, Reisterer's Baking Corp., Hempstead, N.Y.; Eugene Wilson, Marge's Donut Den, Wyoming, Mich.; and the late Larry Powell, bakery author and decorator, Auburn, Wash. In addition to the honorary title, award winners receive a lifetime individual membership to the RBA.
RBA will team up with the American Bakers Association and BEMA for the 2010 IBIE show in Las Vegas, Sept. 26-29, 2010. Visit www.bakingexpo.org for more information.
Ninth annual Creative Decorating Competition
Rebecca Lewis, West Carrollton, Ohio, was the 2009 Pillsbury Grand Champion at the Creative Decorating Competition, sponsored by General Mills Bakeries & Foodservice. She represented the Greater Cincinnati Retail Bakers Association. Other contestants were Darla Julin, CD, Upper Midwest Bakers Association; Erika Young, Southeastern Retail Bakers Association; Patty Delaney, New Jersey Bakers Board of Trade; Rita Llanso, chosen by portfolio; Gretchen Leddy, Ohio Bakers Association; Nancy Sepe, chosen by portfolio; Fonny Michaud, chosen by portfolio; Rebecca Woodard, chosen by portfolio; Tammy Montesinos, Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association; and Terry Monk, Deep South Retail Bakers Association.
2009 Pillsbury Grand Champion
1st: Rebecca Lewis, elé Cake Co., West Carrollton, Ohio
2nd: Tammy Montesinos, Central Continental Bakery, Mt. Prospect, Ill.
3rd: Rita Llanso, Touché Touchet Bakery and Pastry Shoppe, Columbia, Md.
Custom Designed Cakes
Nancy Sepe, Nancy's Fancies Cakes, Providence, R.I.
Flowers & Sprays
Fonny Michaud, Cakes Be We, Pasco, Wash.
Terry Monk, Chez Rue Rene, River Ridge, La.