Bittersweet is a cute little storefront with a very small dark interior.
Bittersweet Bake Shoppe is a tiny bakery located in a rural suburb, an hour northwest of Boston. It’s at the top of a small, steep hill, off a busy intersection. It’s an odd corner and unless you’re familiar with the area, it’s easy to miss this bakery. Passing motorists (think: potential customers) might never look up the hill to see the sign which is lost in a maze of other faded signs. I missed it twice and I was looking for it. I said that to the counter girl who replied oh yeah, people say that all the time.
Bittersweet is a cute little storefront with a very small dark interior. The location is workable for a custom cake business that needs a commercial kitchen and already has a strong following. Customers would drive there as a destination business, to pick up their order. But a retail business at this location is tricky, since there’s no foot traffic.
With a retail location, it’s important to have a well-stocked display with fresh products. When customer count is low, it’s still important to keep an assortment of fresh products on display. The owner has been there for approximately ten years so she’s apparently worked out the kinks. (I wanted bread, as seen in the website photo; but bread is only made to order.) It doesn’t appear to be a busy thriving business, but it seems to work for her.
There were two small cases with small trays lined up across the shelf, each tray with a small selection of cookies, bars, muffins or misc candies. Every tray was wrapped to keep the products fresher. Excellent! But a large platter of stacked butter crunch toffee had softened and each layer had melted into the one below. Everything was labelled but most had no prices, which always annoys me. Customers have the right to know what an item costs, without forcing them to ask about every product on display.
Excellent and fresh: I bought a carrot muffin, pineapple bran muffin, baklava, and fig bar.
Two Christmas Pudding Cakes sat on top of the display case and one had mold surrounding the dried fruit. As I was checking out I told the sales clerk who insisted it was really the green holiday cherries that fool people, but I insisted she look. Yup, it was mold. She pulled both of the cakes.
After visiting many small bakeries over the years, especially during normally slow times (such as after Christmas) I’ve come to expect stale, dry, and inedible products. But not here. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried the items. Both muffins were soft and flavorful; the baklava had a unique delicious flavor; and the fig bar was fresh.
This location made me think of newbie home bakers with no business experience who are desperate to move to a retail location and would think this was a fabulous spot. Again, it would work for someone with an existing cake business, not for someone dependent on income generated from retail walk-in traffic.
Home-Based Baking at its Best! If you’re looking for a storefront, a business plan will help identify the amount of retail traffic to expect.
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