Monday, February 23, 2004

Library Sale and More 

We arrived at the Friends of the Library Sale about 45 minutes before it opened. We were near the front of the line. Manager was initially embarrased that I insisted on bringing a rolling cart - one designed for grocery shopping or laundry, but by the end of our pillaging of the sale, she agreed it was a good idea. It didn't hurt that many people pushed similar carts.

Anyway, in line for the wait, we started talking about the Cracked Cauldron. This being Oklahoma, people will talk to one another in long lines - and this is traditionally a long line where we wait a long time. So, the folks around us all started jumping in on the conversation. We got a few recipes, made a few friends, and probably got quite a few future customers. We also had a few of them come up to us with books they'd found they thought we'd like. Most of the time, we did.

One of them, a burly biker dude, was flipping through a bread book, and saw me across the table. He grinned and said, "I done got this book, you'll need it for your bakery." It was the La Brea Bakery book, and yes, one I'd been looking for. I took it and asked him if he'd tried the recipes in it.

He lit up and described the started he'd made, and we talked about yeast beasties for a good 15 minutes. He'd never heard the term "yeast beasties" before. I told him about my starters, and shared that my favorite was one I'd brought from Germany, named Heike, and that I had a vigorus one named Penelope. Then, he confessed he'd named his starter: Somerlyn. We agreed to give one another daughters of our starters.

He asked if we took bookings, and I answered, "not until we get closer to opening." I gave him my email address, and got his. We parted on very amicable terms.

I can't wait to get Somerlyn's daughter.

By the time we'd scoured both the General Collections and the Collector's Choice Room, we'd scored about $40.00 in suitable books - most of them were $1.00 or $1.50, one was $8.00, and the rest were $2.00 each. It was a stack of books on breads, entreprenuership, and business forms that stacked higher than my knees. The Friends of the Library Booksale is and has always been a grand resource.

Later on, when Manager and I went out for lunch at iHOP, the waiter got all excited about the Cracked Cauldron, because we were drawing up floor diagrams of how we wanted the workflow to go. A lot will depend on what we actually manage to find to rent, but it never hurts to have a few ideas in mind while we're looking. Anyway, back to Brent, our waiter. He thought a bakery would be cool.

When I told him there were several bakeries in town, he dismissed them as "restaurants" and not "real bakeries".

That may be true of Panera's, Someplace Else, and Ingrid's because they are more deli and meal oriented, but Big Sky Bread is only bread - franchised, but still, just bread.

Still, as we stumble along, we are discovering so many people who really want what we are planning to offer - and most of them like our targeted location area, too.

They like the thought of bread, soup, and sweets, with live performers and an Open Mike Night.

One of the results of the weekend was learning that Manager only has a math class and her Capstone left to graduate.

Since many things are coming together much faster than anticipated, and she can complete her degree by August, we are altering the timeline we created.

New plans are to open by mid October to take advantage of what we've always called "chocolate season" - October to May when chocolate is sold cheaply and appears in all the festivities. It's dense with holidays that want breads and cookies and hot soups.

This means she'll be getting bakery experience in May, June, and July, and asking for the start-up loan in August, or possibly July. We should be ready with a location by July, we'll have September and the first half of October to remodel as needed.

Word of mouth advertising has already begun, paid advertising will begin in June.

here we go - the avalanche into opening. Let's hope we keep things under control.

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