May Update


May was a great month!

I took two fun trips with Andrew for his work, we took our daughter Rebecca to New York to see Dear Evan Hansen (very good!) and I went for a quick but really fun trip to Calgary for a surprise party for our son Tom’s 25th birthday.

But even with all that excitement in my personal life, the month was even better on the PGB front. Not because of unprecedented sales or finding a big buyer for the Protein Pixies or landing a government grant but simply because I made a decision.

For at least two years now I have been trying to decide what to do with the business: grow sales organically with new ideas for cakes, other products, new Treats, social media, marketing and so on – or go big and open new stores.

I can’t explain my reluctance to expand through store openings except to say that now that I have decided to do so, it feels like any sooner would have been too soon. We needed to figure out what Cakes sold and what didn’t; exit cookies, brownies and tarts; design new boxes; finish developing our protein fortified cupcakes; and sort out our customer service structure.

We’ve done all those things now as well as ride through a period of rental increases, higher prices for key ingredients and a significant increase to the minimum wage. That we were able to absorb all those cost challenges and still thrive made me realize we’ve moved from a “pretty new business” to a “mature business” and that gives me confidence.

I also had the good fortune to have two meetings with senior people in the foodservice industry who outlined where PGB sits now and where we could go. A year or so ago I don’t think I’d have been ready to act after our conversations but for all the reasons above, now I am.

There is so much to do.

I just looked at the “New Store Checklist” I put together for the Yorkville store opening in 2013. I was reminded that – like moving to a new home- opening a new store SUCKS and is a ton of work. It’s hard to find the right locations and it is risky to sign a lease…the buildout costs more than planned…the equipment is never delivered completely as promised.

This is all okay.

I have a super team and I don’t mind a challenging project. For me, dithering about what to do is way more uncomfortable than deciding on a path and going for it.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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