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Dough House Cookies Opens at Canfield Library

CANFIELD, Ohio – TaRee Avery, who for years baked only for friends and family, has brought her home-taught skills to the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s Canfield Library.

Dough House Cookies held its grand opening Monday at the Canfield library branch after a soft opening last week. It’s taken over the space occupied by Kravitz Deli.

“We haven’t told anyone that we’re here and we’re still doing better than I even expected,” Avery said. “So I feel like once we get the word out, it’ll continue to grow.”

Avery, who grew up on the south side of Youngstown and graduated from Chaney High School, opened Dough House Cookies last year after returning from Nashville, where she worked as coordinator of student support at Belmont University.

The shop offers selections that range from the traditional chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies based on recipes handed down from Avery’s grandmother to more exotic concoctions such as brown butter blueberry and lavender lemon, based on her experiences outside the Mahoning Valley.

Part of Dough House’s mission “is to blend traditional flavors with sort of innovative flavor creations,” she said.

Taught at home by her mother and grandmother, Avery said she baked many years for enjoyment, serving her cookies, cakes and pies to family and friends. After years of encouragement, she relented and decided to sell cookies at an event to gauge interest. “We sold out,” she recalled.

As her business – Nashville Cookie Bar — grew, she realized she couldn’t work full-time and bake. So she reached out to parents, Paul and Sass Avery, here. They told her about the Youngstown Business Incubator, the North Side kitchen incubator and other revitalization efforts in the area.

Her parents agreed to help her during her first years in business and she moved back to the Mahoning Valley, launching Dough House Cookies in November.

Upon returning, she also connected with the incubator’s Women in Entrepreneurship program.

“It just so happened that the WE program was preparing for its WE Create program,” said Stephanie Gilchrist, former executive director of the program. “TaRee applied for that five-week accelerator program and after completion move onto our WE Launch program.”

WE Launch advised Dough House Cookies on its business plan, legal documents and other details Avery said she needed to get launched here. WE guided the business “from the idea stage to its actual formation,” the entrepreneur said. She credited Gilchrist with mentoring her.

“If you have ever experienced Dough House Cookies, you would understand why [Avery] stood out,” Gilchrist stated. “Not only does she have a good product, but her drive, passion and consistency stand out.”

WE Launch helped Avery network with other female entrepreneurs and served as her “direct connection to getting into the library,” Avery said. The former executive director of the library system, Heidi Daniel, served on the WE steering committee.

When Jack Kravitz, owner of Kravitz Deli, decided to not renew his lease at the library, he, Daniel and Gilchrist this spring discussed having a female-owned business occupy the space.

“I knew TaRee was ready and would be perfect for that space,” Gilchrist said.

“We got an opportunity to present for the library committee and they just liked what we were offering,” Avery said. The nine-foot-by-nine-foot space is “perfect for what we’re doing,” she added.

In addition to its space at the Canfield Library, Dough House Cookies sells at farmers markets locally and offers both fresh-baked cookies and cookie dough for shipping for orders through its website. The kitchen at Avery’s house is licensed as a bakery, and for larger orders she uses the kitchen incubator downtown.

David Ritchie, president of the library board of directors, predicts the Canfield community will respond well to Avery’s cookies.

“It allows anybody to come in and have a coffee or a pop or whatever,” he said. “It’s not a meal. It’s just something that fills a need at that time.”

Avery is encouraged by what she’s seen so far.

“It’s been so great – not only the people who come in for morning coffee but the kids who come after school and get snacks,” Avery said. “I’ve been really excited to see them try new things.”

Pictured at top: TaRee Avery, owner/operator of Dough House Cookies.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.