Plodding on


Minnie, my cat, climbs under our bedspread after I make the bed, creating an unusual hill in the middle of the otherwise smooth bed.

If I pet this little lump, I hear a small grumpy meow – an acknowledgement I exist, a request to go away.

Looking back over the starts and stops of the last few months, I’m sure that if some mornings I’d joined Minnie under the bedspread I would have accomplished as much. Two units we’ve seriously looked at downtown have gone sideways, detailed plans to renovate the Victoria store were ditched for altogether new ones, and the negotiation of the first suburban lease is beginning to rival a UN Peace agreement.

This has made me realize that companies that expand rapidly –  10 new locations for a gourmet burger place in Toronto,  26 new ‘technical cashmere’ stores in Canada, 400 new McDonalds worldwide – do something very differently than what Prairie Girl Bakery is doing right now. I’ve totally made up those examples but you know what I mean – many companies expand amazingly fast.

So what, I ask myself, is wrong with ME? I decided in May to expand “rapidly” and here I am in November about to sign….one lease. Maybe, hopefully.

Here is what I think. As in so many situations in life, it’s about money and more specifically about the  company’s appetite for debt. I don’t like debt. It’s not that I don’t like risk, it is just the idea of something happening and not being able to pay back the money that freaks me out.

It’s a very good thing that other entrepreneurs are not like me because the great companies of the world all expanded on debt, be it loans or private equity. I’m okay with carefully spending PGB’s savings, and taking out a modest bank loan, but beyond that, not so much.

Having said all that, I really believe in our suburban strategy and I am SO excited to see how we do with a nut free location in the heart of busy Markham. If it is as successful as we hope, then I will consider looking at ways to expand that strategy more quickly over the GTA – such as private equity. For now though, I’m continuing with my current cautious approach to see what 2019 brings PGB.

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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