An upscale pastry store thrives by finding new markets
As the economy began to deteriorate in early 2008, a few things became clear to Gary Gottenbusch, owner of Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli Inc. in Cincinnati: Customers were purchasing smaller items in an effort to be frugal, and soaring prices for flour and other commodities were threatening to eat into his profits.
A trained baker whose family has been in the bakery business for decades, Mr. Gottenbusch knew the danger the situation posed to his small business, which sells upscale European cakes like Vienna tortes, along with more common fare such as cinnamon bread, at 10 retail locations in and around Cincinnati.
“My overhead was totally fixed, and I knew if I lost my sales, I would lose the profitability,” says the 44-year-old Mr. Gottenbusch. “It was time to be aggressive in getting more volume.”
Chef David Burke is known for his creative cuisine. Now he’s using that same creative approach to weather a downturn in dining out. He talks with WSJ’s Beckey Bright about his strategy.
So, instead of hunkering down and hoping the economic downturn would be short-lived, Mr. Gottenbusch reinvented his business. With the help of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program partially funded by the Department of Commerce and designed to give small firms access to manufacturing specialists and other advisers, Mr. Gottenbusch looked for new customers in unusual places, created unique products to drive store traffic, joined a purchasing association to keep costs in check and took advantage of the real-estate slump to scoop up a new store location on the cheap.
The result: Servatii not only survived last year, it thrived, with sales rising 15% to $8.5 million. …read more at Sweet Returns – Wall Street Journal, published 23 April 2009.
Photo credit: servatiipastryshop.com