Napa's Annie the Baker mixes up business during pandemic

Napa's Annie the Baker mixes up business during pandemic

From the Coronavirus roundup from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan series

The coronavirus pandemic has hurt businesses of all types, especially those in the food services — restaurants, coffee shops, specialty food shops and bars. While she doesn’t own a restaurant or specialty food retail shop, Anne Baker, better known around town as Annie the Baker, has felt the pinch as well.

“The shelter in place for the pandemic has caused a lot of retail and coffee shops who carry Annie the Baker cookies to switch to curbside pick-up or these businesses have closed completely. That has rippled down to pretty much zero wholesale accounts,” Baker said.

“The businesses that have remained open have cut their orders by more than 70%, understandably. Browns Valley Yogurt and Oakville Grocery are still selling a very small amount of Annie the Baker cookies.”

These challenging times have necessitated many to rethink how they conduct business. In Annie’s case, it’s been a crash course.

The Annie the Baker website has always had an online cookie cart, but it was only a small part of her business. The pandemic changed that.

“Napa locals and folks from around the globe still crave comfort food, like cookies,” Baker said. “I decided early on that the best way to get my cookies out there to people who are sheltering in place is to ship them out.”

Once a fixture at the Napa Farmers Market, Annie has had to pull back from that option as well.

“They are doing an amazing job at the farmers market to create a safe shopping experience, with well-thought-out social distancing and transaction plans to minimize risk,” she explained. “Because I have absolute control at my commercial kitchen, I had to forgo working the market due to my husband’s severely suppressed immune system. I can’t wait to be back.”

The next challenge was to get the word out.

“I really turned to social media in a big way,” Baker said.

“I have been posting a lot of cookie pictures to Facebook and Instagram and my friend is helping me do some fun videos of my shipping process to remind people that I am still here baking for them. Folks craving cookies have been placing online orders like crazy.”

“It also helps when recipients of these cookie post getting their cookie packages on Facebook and Instagram,” Baker added.

“Because of that, I end up getting a lot of first-time orders from people who haven’t experienced my cookies yet. It has been very exciting to see all the locations all over the United States receiving my cookies.”

Marketing was only part of the challenge for Annie. Once the orders started coming in, the pressure was on to produce, and quickly.

Baker agrees. “A huge challenge is getting flour, butter and sugar delivered so I can keep baking cookies. These are staples that have been in short supply for about three weeks now. This adds to the challenge of keeping my small business running during this crazy time. I guess it’s a good problem to have!”

While Annie cannot wait to return to normal, for now she will continue to work, mostly alone, in her kitchen baking her famous cookies for orders she receives from around the world.

“Anyone who knows me, knows I love being around people. But until this is over, I’ll be in my kitchen,” she said.

Her advice to other small businesses?

“Do what you need to do to remain open and get your product into the hands of your customers now. People are home, scared and craving comfort food, and they need your product. It gives me comfort to know I can still share some sweet happiness by shipping my cookies!”

For shipping (Annie ships orders on Mondays and Wednesdays), visit AnnietheBaker.com. In addition, orders can be picked up curbside at Annie’s commercial kitchen on Industrial Way off of California Drive. To place an order and schedule a pick up, email her directly at AnnietheBaker@yahoo.com.

Complete coronavirus coverage from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan

This webpage contains all Napa County coronavirus coverage as featured in the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star and The Weekly Calistogan. This page will be updated several times a day as news comes in. Please bookmark this page to stay on top of local developments.

You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or jhuffman@napanews.com

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