SBDC Helps Gourmet Cookie Company Out of a Sticky Situation and Into a New and Bigger Production Facility
Fernanda and Angelo Capraro grew up in the south of Italy. They come from a long line of bakers. Fernanda helped her "Nonna" make her famous and very delicious Italian cookies. These delicious treats made every occasion special and were served at all the local weddings.
In the 1970s, Fernanda and Angelo brought their famous cookies to California where they started a family of Italian restaurants, including the much loved Villa Romana in Laguna Beach. The Capraros baked batches of homemade Italian cookies for friends, family, and customers using recipes handed down for generations. After 20 years as successful restaurateurs, Fernanda and Angelo followed their dream to start a bakery, Cookies con Amore, and share their cookies with the world.
Cookies con Amore started in a 1,700-square-foot bakery creating cookies with lots of love in small batches. They moved to an 8,000-square-foot bakery in Vista, California and launched a gluten free cookie line. Over the next 10 years, they created 40 different types of cookies and product lines. The staff grew to over 40 employees with 4,000 customers in the U.S. and Canada.
The Capraros spent 10 years at their Vista, California facility and were dismayed when their landlord decided to sell the building they were renting. They began searching for a new location and each month that passed during the search, the rent increased, creating an extremely stressful situation. They had to watch their other expenses, monitor cash flow, and manage inventory while the producing the same high quality products and service for their clients. They needed to find a new location and obtain financing for working capital to fund the expansion.
The Capraros sought guidance from the North San Diego Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The consultants at the SBDC helped them work with their landlord to reduce the monthly rent; encouraged them to allocate more time for finding a new building; and connected them with the City of San Marcos to help them locate their new building.
In addition, the SBDC assisted them in securing $1,655,000 in financing, including an SBA backed 7(a) loan for $660,000 through Readycap Lending, LLC, to purchase the building, and a 7(a) SBA Express loan for $120,500 through Banner Bank to assist with cash flow during the transition.
The SBDC assistance received by the Capraros included over 30 hours of business advice and knowledge gained for attending several SBDC workshops.
Cookies con Amore purchased a bakery and relocated to a newer 30,000 square-foot facility in San Marcos, California in November 2017. The move from a 8,000 square-foot facility to the larger facility allowed them to increase productivity, capacity, and profitability. In addition, they were able to create additional product lines and added 10 new employees.
Sales increased by over $600,000 from 2017 to 2018.
Cookies con Amore are sold on line and throughout the USA and Canada at over 4,000 gourmet, grocery, club stores and mass retailers. Their clients include Rally's, Whole Foods, Majors Markets, Sprouts, Gelsen's, Pavilions, Fresh Markets, Amazon, Marshall's, Costco, and T.J. Maxx - U.S. and Canada.
"Who can resist a cookie?" asks Fernanda Capraro.