Sayonara, Valentine’s Day, for another year


On Valentine’s Day, I worked at the FCP store counter from 8 until 4, and then over at Victoria Street until it closed at 6. Sometime in the morning, a customer ordered 10 of the two-mini boxes. These cute little boxes are the collapsible type that take up way less space if we keep them flat and they are really quick to expand- so usually we just expand them and add the insert when a customer orders one. BUT, as I was making up the 10 boxes on Valentine’s Day, with the entire line-up of Valentine customers watching,  it occurred to me: “Hmmm, next year we should have several clear plastic bags already made up of the one-mini and tow-mini boxes!!” So this will get added to the list of topics for us to discuss in our Valentine’s debrief along with what happened to the gift card functionality over at FCP 🙂

When I worked at the bank, there were various time-and-motion studies for things like setting up bank accounts and loan approvals and I think the same idea applies to any sort of business. We’ve all had the frustrating experience of watching a business do something in a clumsy (aka slow) way and wondered why they can’t get their act together. No doubt that thought crossed the mind of at least a few PGB customers on Valentine’s Day as they watched me make up the 10 little boxes and push in the inserts.

On the positive side of what we did to streamline things, we dedicated one Customer Service person to be in charge of filling the acrylic trays that hold the cupcakes. Every other day, this function is done by one of the bakers but we realized that on Valentine’s Day past, when we have run out of cupcakes to sell, the Customer Service team has nothing to do anyway so we decided to “donate” one CS person to this baking function thus maximizing the number of bakers focused on baking cupcakes. We also went ALL OUT on making boxes in advance because without boxes, once again, we have nothing to sell. Before the day started, our meeting room at the Victoria store was filled to the top with preassembled boxes and throughout Valentine’s Day, Carly ditched her finance duties to make “more” boxes and keep the back-up supply high.

Our preplanning efforts paid off because for the first time in three Valentine’s Days, we didn’t have any times in the day when we had no cupcakes to sell or no boxes to put them in. I think the take-away for any sort of  business (which it took us two Valentine’s Days to learn) is that whenever there is a finite window of business to capture, everything you can throw against it to maximize sales is well worth the effort.

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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