October 2, 2023

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Business is my step

Incredibly hot Oven Cookies Seizes Growth Options During Pandemic

5 min read

Points Are Heating Up

For Sheila Coon and her husband, Dan, the pandemic has been a time to expand

For Sheila Coon and her husband, Dan, the pandemic has been a time to expand, not retrench, and set new and bold objectives for the long run.

For many small-enterprise house owners, 2020 has been a yr to hunker down. To focus on survival. To set plans for enlargement on hold and commit time and energy to simply receiving to future thirty day period, or even next week.

Not so for Sheila and Dan Coon, homeowners of Hot Oven Cookies.

For them, 2020 has been a year to choose their model to places, and a level, it had never ever been in advance of, and to foster designs to take it even further even now in the a long time to appear. It’s been a time to build them selves downtown and uptown, as they like to say (we’ll explain later on), and extend not only the footprint, but also the solution traces, together with cookie dough by the pint — ‘dough to go,’ as they simply call it.

There has been some excellent fortune, or serendipity, if you will, along the way, and some potent proof that cookies have become a consolation foods in the midst of this world-wide pandemic — there’s even converse of a doable cookie scarcity for the holiday seasons. But typically, this has been about entrepreneurial spirit and seizing chances when they have come about — qualities that have described this enterprise from the start off.

About a year or so in the past, none of what has transpired considering that appeared probably or even achievable. In point, as Sheila remembers, the spouse-and-wife crew had been imagining about packing it in and turning the oven off for fantastic.

Certainly, by late 2019, the enterprise, then positioned at 1597 Key St. in Springfield, had endured numerous months of turmoil with its landlord in excess of conditions that experienced manufactured it significantly difficult to do business enterprise — no heat in the wintertime, no air conditioning in the summer season, for instance. By mid-November, matters had appear to a head, and the firm had in essence ceased activity in that site, operating for a time out of its Cookie Cart (a food stuff truck of types) until eventually its pipes froze in the wintertime.

The two associates ultimately went back again to their storefront at the behest of shoppers, but when they did, it was late February, just prior to the pandemic arrived and a wave of restrictions on small organizations like this just one went into outcome.

“My husband and I had been wondering, ‘we need to possibly close and gather unemployment, because this is going to be poor,’” she recalled, incorporating that, in its place of shutting down, they made a decision to hang in — typically because of to the potent loyalty shown by extended-time clients.

That choice to persevere turned just the initially of lots of watershed times more than the previous 9 months or so. The firm has considering that opened two new locations — a person in Sixteen Acres at the Bicentennial Plaza (which is the ‘uptown’ locale) and then another (a alternative for the previous internet site) even further south on Most important Avenue in Springfield, in a location previously, and briefly, occupied by a Delaney’s Industry. Each opened just very last thirty day period.

Sheila realized about the downtown spot and had her eye on it — sort of. She experienced very long thought it out of her reach value-wise, but then, there was some of that serendipity.

“My husband and I had been imagining, ‘we need to in all probability shut and acquire unemployment, for the reason that this is likely to be poor.’”

“I keep in mind stating to somebody, ‘if I could open up up in which Delaney’s was, I would do it in a heartbeat,’” she informed BusinessWest. “It was wishful contemplating, but two days later on I received a cellular phone connect with, and a person mentioned, ‘hey, we have the keys, would you like to go see it?’

“We came to see it a number of days immediately after we opened Allen Street, and we assumed, ‘this is further than our arrive at,’” she ongoing. “But our model status preceded us, and the landlord was very prepared to perform with us simply because he desired us right here. And below we are.”

In addition to these two locations, the firm still operates the Cookie Cart, which has been parked at a amount of area schools, businesses, and even private residences for birthday get-togethers and anniversaries, and also has a kiosk at Bradley International Airport, which has been idled by the pandemic — the 1 facet of the enterprise to be slowed by COVID-19.

As BusinessWest talked with Sheila at the downtown site on a Thursday afternoon a couple months ahead of Xmas, shoppers steadily filed into the retail store. At a person point, the line turned very long plenty of that she strike pause to go aid her personnel driving the counter.

It has been like this really considerably considering the fact that the locale opened, she explained, including that the Sizzling Oven brand — that includes a lot more than 100 flavors, such as staples like Darkish Chocolate + Seal Salt Chip, Boozy Cake Batter Sugar, and Coquito Snookerdoodle — has often been well-liked and sought out by those people in this market and some others residing well outside the house it.

And the pandemic has made it even a lot more well known, she believes, theorizing that the cookies give a measure of ease and comfort, a measure of usual, at a time when individuals are craving each.

Indeed, when questioned how the downtown was doing considering the fact that opening, she started off with “wow,” paused for a second, and place it in viewpoint.

“My partner and I had a logistical assembly just before we opened both of those the retailers,” she recalled. “And the discussion went a thing like this: ‘we’re shifting two blocks more than to a new location and new shopper foundation, and we’re transferring uptown to a further place it is going to take a although for people today to capture on that we’re in this article.’

“Nope … that has not been the case,” she went on. “Business down below for us has been double or triple what we’re carrying out two blocks more than. And uptown is a beast of a shop — we offer out every single day.”

Searching ahead, Sheila said the corporation is on the lookout ahead to the day when the kiosk at Bradley can open and come to be a strong source of revenue that can finance long term enlargement — maybe into Worcester, Boston, and other towns. And there has extended been communicate of franchising this brand and having it perfectly further than its Western Mass. roots.

For the quick future, while, the two have their palms total with the two new spots and the brisk organization they are witnessing.

There have not been as well numerous organization-growth tales for the duration of this pandemic, but this is definitely just one of them.

Connect with it a feel-good tale if you like, but this is also, and particularly, a style-excellent tale. And a extremely intriguing just one at that.


George O’Brien can be arrived at at [email protected]

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