More on striking out


In the summer I wrote about the difficulty of decision making –  really knowing if something will “work”. All signs can point to something being popular with customers and for some reason, it isn’t – or vice versa. Often it is about timing. Ten years ago, Andrew signed up for an online shopping service which included the ability to pick up your items at a locker near Union Station. To Andrew, it was a great idea but for some reason, it didn’t take off – at least at that time. In 2010 a Waterloo company called BufferBox  launched with the same premise – and the owners sold two years later to Google for the tidy sum of $17 million!

In my last post I mentioned a number of things we’ve tried which worked and some which did not – but none of the items were very costly. As in, it didn’t take a lot of time or money to experiment with selling plastic Happy Birthday picks at the cash register (which turned out to be a winning idea, by the way).  Right now, however, Carly, Andrea and I are talking about investing in  two rather big items – an edible image printer and a double cooler into which two rolling racks can be placed. All in, we’d be writing cheques for about $20,000 for the first machine and $10,000 for the cooler. So, unlike the plastic pick experiment,  it would be nice to get these decisions right.


Unfortunately I can’t tell you what the crystal ball says but I can tell you why we are going with the first investment and holding off on the second. The printer will offer a big improvement from the customization we already do for customers and which we know is popular. Right now we sell a lot of generic sugar and plastic toppers for holidays and special events like showers, weddings and birthdays, which reminds me that I just saw in the elevator that Julia Roberts is 47 today. We also can make plastic toppers for cupcakes with a corporate logo or personal monogram. We’ve learned that customers like their cupcakes to be decorated seasonally and also, if at all possible, customized for their business or their personal events  Because of the demand we’ve already seen for this,  I think it is reasonable to surmise that with a much higher quality of branding, we will sell more customized orders.

As well, the new edible printer will allow us to put actual photographs on our soon-to-launch cookies and the Celebration size cupcakes.


On the other hand, we are holding off for now on the large cooler because its intended use is for chilling the cookie dough and we do not yet know the demand.  We “believe” that the upcoming cookies, brownies and tarts will wow our customers in the same way our cupcakes do, but we just don’t know for sure. So, we are going to find a way to work with the existing cooler for our cookie doughs and be all set to go with the new cooler purchase once those cookie orders are flying in.

So that is our reasoning. Even though the edible printer is a big expense, I feel that we already know that there is demand and this will only increase the demand.On the other hand, although the fridge is a smaller amount it is still a hefty price tag and is part of a brand new and unknown initiative.

Anyway, I’m sure this is not the last you will hear about either investment.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Julia!

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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