Abigail’s Bakery Reopens at Site with Drive-Thru
AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — Bill Smith will welcome customers to the new home of Abigail’s Bakery Creations by next week.
Smith spent the better part of the last few months renovating the nearly 2,500-square-foot space at 4930 Mahoning Ave. It’s a few doors away from his original 700-square-foot bake shop and includes indoor seating, a drive-thru and plenty of parking.
“We were very crammed in there,” he says. “If one person pulled in, it made it difficult for everybody else.”
The drive-thru helps because many people are still wary about shopping during the pandemic, he says. Still, he expects to gain back the retail business he lost in the time from closing down the original location and opening the new one. In between, he’s only been doing specialty orders for customers.
At the new storefront, customers will be able to purchase the baklava, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, doughnuts and other baked goods, as well as the uncommon flavors and combinations that Smith has been known for.
“One of the things that’s gotten me to where we are, I believe, is I do what normal bakeries don’t do,” he said. “Our top five flavors, most people have never heard of them.”
His third best-selling item is a pickleback cupcake. Other flavor combinations include lavender and rosemary, as well as banana and peanut butter, and chocolate with local beer.
The chocolate chip cookies and baklava account for more than half of his total revenue, he says. At the previous location, it was common for Smith to sell 20 dozen chocolate chip cookies daily — the sole cookie variety he sells for walk-in customers. He would sell 4,000 cookies in 16 days, he says.
“I don’t compete with grandmas,” he allows with a laugh. “I lose to grandma every time. I’ll accept that.”
With the new location, he expects cookie sales to increase to 40 to 50 dozen daily, and hopes to land wholesale orders, he says.
He just won his fourth award for his baklava, which took honors at the Austintown Fitch High School holiday jazz festival two years running. He received an award at this year’s Taste of Austintown before the pandemic struck.
“I have a lot of my Greek customers and Arab customers who tell me that they don’t even make it anymore. They order it from me,” he says.
For about 25 years, Smith was a manager for large retail stores, most recently the Dick’s Sporting Goods store near the Eastwood Mall in Niles, until health conditions forced him to leave the company.
In 2017, he started baking in his home kitchen, mostly for friends and family. Then in March 2019, he opened the first Abigail’s Bakery Creations at 4954 Mahoning Ave. From home business to the first shop, sales increased about 400%, he says, and 2019 “was an amazing year.”
Things were on track for more gains in 2020 until the pandemic, he says. The bakery lost all of its event business, such as graduation parties. The launch of the Mahoning County Take-Out page on Facebook helped him make up that business “plus so much more,” he says.
“The Mahoning County Take-Out page has been fabulous for us,” Smith says. “We get probably 10, 20 new customers a week off that site alone.”
Smith looks to hire three new employees to start and will add on employees depending on how business goes. It will also give him a chance to step away from the day-to-day operations, which makes his wife and doctor happy, he says.
The new bake shop has comfortable couches and chairs with café tables and chairs. Furnishings and décor employ a purple and black color scheme favored by his daughter, for whom the bakery is named.
Read more about Abigail’s Bakery Creations and other regional bakeries and cafes in the November edition of The Business Journal. Click HERE to subscribe.
Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.