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After 25 years of working as a retail executive for the May Department Store, Macy’s, and G. Fox & Company, Beth Bolton decided it was time to launch a second career. She had always dreamed about owning a bakery/coffee shop, but the truth was that her knowledge of the industry was limited and she needed to learn more about the full range of bakery products before undertaking such an endeavor.
Could she do it? Her impetus came from her children who supported and encouraged her to follow her dream so that later in her life she wouldn’t have to ask herself, “what if”?
With her support system in place, she challenged herself to fully understand the full range of bakery products as well as the nuts and bolts of owning and operating a bakery. Beth enrolled in the Connecticut Culinary Institute and got a job working at a bakery in Simsbury which gave her the confidence and experience to bring her dream to fruition. And after noticing an empty storefront on Park Road in West Hartford many times, she decided that this was the perfect location for her business.
Beth opened her bakery in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession but nevertheless managed to build a customer base. She also reached out for help with payroll, state and employment taxes, variables she couldn’t control. Then after two years in business, disaster struck when Hurricane Irene paid a visit in 2011 and the bakery was without power for nine days just three weeks before the busy Thanksgiving holiday. Luckily, an SBA disaster team was sent to Connecticut in response to the hurricane and Beth received an SBA disaster loan to help maintain operations.
At about the same time, Beth called SBA Lender Relations Specialist Bill Tierney to discuss cash flow issues. Bill put her in touch with HEDCO, a Connecticut-based SBA micro lender, that not only assisted with technical questions but ultimately lent the business $113,000 to purchase equipment for the bakery.
Despite all the adversity “A Little Something Bakery” continues to operate because of its high quality products and the fact that it offers “a little something” in addition to excellent baked goods to each of its customers.
Another strength is that Beth is committed to training her nine employees on every facet of the business like counting money, excellent customer service, daily goals, creating new products , resourcefulness and avoiding waste. The cost of supplies has risen almost 100% since she opened the doors so that she wants her employees to be diligent about production costs.
Beth believes in asking for help and in addition to HEDCO, has been counseled by the West Hartford SCORE Chapter and the Women’s Business Center where she is in the process of rewriting her business plan. She recently joined the Park Road Business Association to increase networking opportunities.
A Little Something Bakery is an all-American bakery that offers cupcakes, pies, brownies and muffins. Her long-term goals are to purchase the building the business now rents and to provide outdoor seating for her customers.