Bakery associations can be an invaluable source of new ideas for your business.
Trade associations can be an invaluable tool and resource if you take the time to avail yourself of what they offer. It can be very easy to say, “I don’t have time to leave my shop,” or “they never offer anything worthwhile.”
But if you don’t attend the meetings or workshops, how do you know how worthwhile the information presented is?
Modern Baking visited Dorothy Lane Markets in Dayton, Ohio, for this month’s in-store bakery feature. (Read it here.) The visit happened to occur on Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, while the bakery was in the last throes of king cake production. Scott Fox, bakery director, admitted that 12 years ago he didn’t even know what a king cake was. And, frankly neither did many bakers or people outside of the New Orleans area.
But it is a testament to bakery associations and the New Orleans bakers who helped spread the word about this great, pre-Lenten indulgence, that people in most regions of the country now know what a king cake is.
Fox had attended a meeting of his local Cincinnati bakery association, and the featured speaker was Mark Atwood, owner of Atwood’s Bakery in Alexandria, La.,–prime king cake country. And as bakers in Louisiana could attest, king cakes are big business.
The product, with its history and traditions, was intriguing, and Fox decided to try it out in Dorothy Lane’s bakeries. That first year, two bakeries sold a combined 90 king cakes. It was enough to convince Fox that this product had potential. Now, Dorothy Lane starts selling king cakes in the first week of January and continues until Fat Tuesday, which this year was Feb. 12. This year, the three locations sold 1,500 king cakes and more than 700 baby (individual size) king cakes. For those six weeks, king cakes accounted for 2.5 percent of bakery sales. With a retail price of $12.99 for regular king cakes and $3.99 for baby king cakes that adds up to significant business. The numbers have increased every year, Fox said.
This is just one example. I wish I had a better memory to be able to recount all the instances where I have been visiting bakers and they’ve pointed out a product or a procedure they use and have said they got the idea from attending an association meeting or tradeshow.
If Fox had been “too busy” to attend that particular meeting, who knows when he would have discovered king cakes and who knows where that business would be today?