Thursday, June 23, 2016

Start Your Own Eat Local Pie Shop

Aroma Pie Shop ~ Whalen, Minnesota ~ on the Root River Bike Trail

There is a pie shop on a lovely bike trail along the Root River in southeast Minnesota, near Lanesboro, which I have been to twice. It is pictured above. Each time I’ve been there I’ve thought what a perfect business model it is – great pies available to tourists during the summer biking season located along a nice Rails-to-Trails bicycle path. Bikes actually race to the shop like it’s a life or death matter to be first in line. They have around 30 pie choices and no one ever wants their choice to be – horrors – gone. If only every bike trail in the nation could have a pie shop like that one. The combination of exercise and eating pie is a feel-good winner.

Another favorite pie shop of mine, also associated with fall biking, is called the Pie Garden Cafe located near Arbor Lodge in Nebraska City, Nebraska. This shop, too, is rustic, quaint, and historical. Nebraska City, known for trees, is also known for apples. Who doesn't like carmel apple pie a la mode celebrated in the small town that founded Arbor Day?

A number of years ago, the WSJ covered the story of a Colton, California pie shop on its front page. They explained that people would stand in line at this shop for three hours prior to Thanksgiving, shoving each other and shouting, so that the owner had to hire a security guard. That's how popular Dorothy Pryor Rose’s bakery pies were. Some of her customers even scalped pies in the parking lot, selling $12 pies for $20.
Ms. Rose, who expects to take in $600,000 to $700,000 this year, says she regularly declines business because her facilities aren’t adequate to accommodate the demand....With more resources, Ms. Rose says she could avoid scenes like the time last year when a man came in and offered her $100 for the last remaining pecan pie, which had been reserved by another customer. She thought it over for a split second before telling him: “Sold, take your pie.”---WSJ
The WSJ reported that in other towns the shop names were different, but the popularity was the same. In Berkeley, it was Fat Apple's. In New York, Mommie Helen's was expected to sell 5,000 pies in the two days leading up to Thanksgiving.

There is a company growing by leaps and bounds named the 'Willamette Valley Pie Company' in Oregon. This month it expanded into a 67,000 square foot production facility. They buy 3 million pounds of fruit from regional growers each year, helping the local farmers. The company was grossing $500,000 in sales per year in 2005, and now, in 2016, it is grossing $10 million in sales. I love to see local businesses sprout up in farming regions, which increase the demand for healthy locally produced farm crops, and this is a perfect example.

photo credit: Pillsbury

Earlier this year, American Bakery reported that pie sales were up 21 percent in grocery store perimeters over the past 12 months. Pie sales are doing well!

Todd Hale LLC - Am.Bakers.org
Because I grew up on a Nebraska farm, I learned to make pies early on and I love making them. As desserts go, they are pretty healthy since they are made with fruit. These days I cut the sugar and fat in the recipes as much as possible and I try to use a "rainbow" variety of fruits, many which we grow on our 1/3 acre urban lot. The perennial fruits are easy to grow and at our house here in Colorado we have cherries, apples, plums, peaches, rhubarb, raspberries, currants, pumpkins, and gooseberries.

I've always thought it would be awesome to own a pie shop located along a bike trail in a rustic historical building, like the one in Minnesota pictured above. And I still think it's a great idea. Maybe someone who reads this will be inspired to try! If so, best of luck and please come back and let us know how it is going.

Massachusetts Pie Shop 

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