In the next town over, there’s a bakery that’s approaching its second anniversary.
It’s often busy, in a town of less than 7,000 people, and surrounded by towns that are even smaller.
The Village Bakery has few natural advantages. It’s located on a street with virtually NO foot traffic.
In the same town is a large supermarket with an excellent bakery, making it convenient for shoppers to do all their shopping in one place.
There’s also a Tim Horton’s location near by that competes in the pastry, donut, bread and coffee sectors.
The Fascinating Part
The business that was in that location prior to the Village Bakery was also a bakery and lasted about a year or two before closing.
Yet its successor is thriving and slowly growing.
It’s rare that we can compare two almost identical businesses in the exact same location and within a similar time span.
What Can We Learn From The Village Bakery
Both bakeries have or had excellent products, and while there was nothing particularly “wrong” about the business that closed, there are things that The Village Bakery is doing that make it just a little more attractive to customers.
Let’s look at those.
- Always Learning and Experimenting: One thing you’ll notice with the Village Bakery is that they seem to be constantly trying new products and making changes based on what they learned.
For example, when they opened they had their cash register just by the front door. Recently the moved the register to the back of the store, so that customers had to walk by display cases full of wonderfully displayed baked goods. Customers now order at the front, and pay at the back. Really smart.
- Happy Happy Place: Again there was nothing wrong with the previous bakery in terms of atmosphere. However The Village Bakery trumps on atmosphere. It’s a happy place. Employees are always smiling, even under pressure. When a place has happy employees, it conveys a sense of welcome that few big chains can complete against.
- Partnering With Others In The Community: It’s clear that Village Bakery is partnering with other organizations. Here are two examples:
In conjunction with a company called Regional Electric, a car charging station was installed in the Village Bakery parking lot, easy to access, and the only one in the region. Not only is that a great thing to do for the community, but it sends a strong message to those concerned with the environment.
Participating in Other Small Town Farmers Market. Last summer, the Village Bakery joined vendors in our town (about 25 minutes drive) opening up a new source of revenue, but more importantly, increasing exposure and branding.
- Knowing Their Market: Currently the Village Bakery has an expanded list of services, making it a much more “full service” eatery, while still maintaining its focus on baked goods.
It offers basic and tasty breakfasts, certainly of higher quality than the grab and dash products available at the nearest McDonalds. It has simple lunches. And a great selection of pastries.
They aren’t trying to be all things to all people, are working in their areas of strength, and doing a great job by getting to know their customer base, and what they might prefer. One of the things about small businesses is that it often doesn’t cost much to experiment, keep what works, and move on with things that don’t work.
No doubt this small business does a number of other things well, causing to succeed where others fail. By coupling a knowledge of their customers, becoming part of various communities, and providing a really happy place for customers to visit for breakfast, lunch or their favorite sweet addictions, they’ve done very well.
The thing is that their ability to do the small ball things, has put them in a position to succeed, and thrive in a town with a tiny market, and well established chains.
They win because they compete on their own ground, and don’t try to go head to head with the giants.
And so can you if you are a small business owner.
Sadly, the bakery could not sustain itself as a result of covid making it almost impossible to sell baked goods or meals for an extended period of time. I guess it goes to show that nothing is guaranteed in life and small business!