You’ve seen those shops-the Mom and Pop variety-everything from groceries, crafts, baked goods to auto shops. The little hole in the wall places where everything or virtually everything is homemade. I’m a sucker for homemade baked good. Today there are Wal-Mart's and Target's everywhere, these quaint little establishments are sometimes harder to find. I mean, how often do you to buy cookies at a local business when there’s a Wal-Mart down the street. But they are there, eking out a living in the best way they can. The internet and Facebook are bringing to light these Mom and Pop shops.
Maybe, because the US is and has been considered the land of opportunity or maybe with the economy not doing so well people are taking a chance and starting their own businesses. The reasons for this shift are many. In some cases many are looking to supplement their household income, or they want to be something they are passionate about, maybe even both. For a number of these business it can go hand in had.
This blog, I am going to spotlight Carrie-Lee Touhey and the Cape Cod Cookie. Carrie-Lee is ½ of the Cape Cod Cookie. It’s an at home baking business specializing in drop style cookies and filled sandwich cookies, with their oatmeal based cookies being their top sellers. What started out as small mail order cookie business has turned into the beginnings of a thriving and delicious endeavor.
How did the Touhey’s come to the cookie conclusion? It started with Carrie-Lee’s family. She grew up with a grandmother that loved to bake and a mother that loved to cook. Home life was centered on food and there were large family meals every night. Her father, of Italian descent, cooked specialty meals, while mom was the nightly dinner chef, and then there was Gram the baker. With a house full of food, family, and love, how could she not find passion in food and baking?
It was in her early 20’s she seriously started creating her own recipes and received her first Kitchen Aid Mixer as a Christmas present. It wasn’t hard to see that baking was in her blood. In the Touhey house, her husband, Matt does the cooking and she usually does the baking. So, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Indeed, no!
It was about 5 years ago, (about 2007) the real idea of building and owning their own became a plan. Prior to this, there had always been talk about owning their own business. With the slumping economy, Carrie-Lee and Matt decided that now was a good time as any to start their journey to the Great American (Cookie) dream.
You would think it was easy to start your own business? Not so! After a trip to the board of Health, they discovered they needed to be ‘ServSafe’ certified. ServSafe is company that offers courses in food safety and preparation for those involved ‘owning or supervising food handling staff’. After a lot of studying and taking a big fancy test, Carrie-Lee and Matt were now certified in the ways of food preparation and safety. They have only begun. It was the 1st step in a long line of steps to getting Cape Cod Cookie off the ground.
But, before they could get the Board of Health to issue a permit, they needed dry storage, proper means to record and keep food at the right temperature, and labeling, and certain types of water sources to name a few. Also, they discovered that after they trekked to the building department, they were told they weren’t commercially zoned. Even though they wouldn’t be selling their products on premise and were primarily a mail order business. Then there was the trip to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and the presentation they had to give to the panel. The Touhey’s went to get their zoning permit, because the law said that you could not sell good on or from premises.
What followed next resulted in a change to the by laws saying that goods can not be sold on premise, but may be sold from the premises. That meant that cookies baked in the Touhey home could be sold elsewhere, just at their home. They had set precedence. Talk about the power of the people! From there they were inspected by the Board of Health and given their permit. And then the true beginnings of the Cape Cod Cookie begin.
Their first Farmers Market was in winter 2009 at Mahoney’s Garden Center. They sold out in the first day! Oh, the lessons learned! Now they frequent between 5 to 7 summer markets, 3 winter markets and 2 to 3 days festivals throughout the summer. This is a family affair, from Matt, the Chief Baking Officer, to Carrie-Lee the Chief Operating Officer, and their 15 year old son, Cody who helps sell the cookies and does other general cookie duties. During the summer month especially, the days are long Carrie-Lee says. Matt is up most of the night baking, while she is up at 5am to help fill and decorate the day’s orders, Cody is up at 7am to pack cookies and make ready for that day’s market(s) with his Mom. Where they unload, set up, and sell until it’s time to break down and head to the next market. Often this process doesn’t end until 8 o’clock at night. Matt stays home with the 2 younger children while Carrie-Lee and Cody travel market to market to sell their wares. When Friday arrives, there’s set up and two days of cookie selling to be done. Then it starts all over again. It’s a gruel pace during the summer, but one the Carrie-Lee and her family seems to love and is thriving on.
So, why all this work you might ask your self? Carrie-Lee says that she wants the Cape Cod Cookie to be ‘Cape Cod’s only full service specialty cookie bakery located in the Heart of downtown Hyannis,’ after all, that’s where they are located. Here she envisions a place where children can make memories with their parents while on vacation, where folks can relax and enjoy a treat while enjoying some free Wi-Fi at their own store front café, the place to get an amazing after dinner dessert: afresh out of the oven cookie with locally homemade ice-cream.
How do Carrie-Lee and Matt planned to do this? Well, even hear of IndieGoGo? Click here to go to Carrie-Lee and Matt's campaign: Cape Cod Cookie IndieGoGo Campaign. It’s a mean’s of raising money. You create a campaign/project, highlight what you have or want to produce/make, how folks can help by donating, and have perks for those who donate money to your project. As of today, there are 13 days left of the Cape Cod Cookie’s campaign (wow, what a mouthful). Carrie-Lee and Matt are raising funds to open that store front bakery I mentioned earlier. The good news is that IndieGoGo offers options for you to tailor make your own campaign. You can choose Flexible Funding or Fixed. One allows you to keep the money that has been raised, even if your goal hasn’t been met, that is Flexible Funding. While Fixed Funding means that if you don’t meet you goal, the money is refunded back to your patrons. Even with that in mind, Carrie-Lee and Matt have a plan that they will use what funds they do get from IndieGoGo to open a kiosk (a mobile Food Cart) at their local mall. The exposure that would give them during the winter months could possibly turn a rewarding business into a lucrative one, just one more step to that full fledged bakery? You bet!
How do they get the word out? The advertising is mostly done through Facebook and “Constant Contact” which an internet tool that the Cape Cod Cookie uses for email marketing and monthly newsletters that update their fan base.
She also used YouTube a bit as a means of helping to promote the Cape Cod Cookie, after all back in the day Carrie-Lee was an avid vlogger on YouTube. Some of you may have heard of her channel, “AskCarrieLee.” She was quite the youtuber back in the day. Now her days are filled with cookies, cookies, and more cookies. Not that that's a bad thing, to her, it's something she wouldn't trade the world for.
Carrie-Lee and Matt are building something that they can pass onto their kids; a legacy of cookies, love, and the power of what you can do when you put your mind to it. Something to keep in mind when want to do something that it could be possible, if you want it bad enough. And a bit of wisdom from my friend James on what I think is very pertinent to life and living "...Choosing to live is very, very hard. But I'm here to tell you, you are strong enough - if you want to be. You have a greater destiny than this. And it's always there to be chosen." ~ James A. Owen, DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS. I applaud Carrie-Lee and Matt for taking on the challenge of life, by living. I am doing to same by writing this blog, I want those out there to be inspired, entertained, or informed by my word. I am inspired by the Cape Cod Cookie and what it stands for, great quality products and hard work breeds success.
So, have I tried these cookies? Yes! I suppose you want to know what I think of them. Well. They are truly some of the best, if not the best cookies I have tasted. EVER! They tout that every ingredient that goes into their cookies are fresh and local. From my taste buds, I believe it. The Plymouth Pumpkin Spice cookies are so moist and delectable. My current favourites are Plymouth Pumpkin Spice, Harwich Hot Chocolate, and the Chatham Chocolate Chunk. They make get presents or great excuse to enjoy a wonderfully baked cookie. Check them out at: Cape Cod Cookie or Cape Cod Cookie Facebook.
I hope you check them out, maybe even help their dream along. ~Cue sappy music~ "If just one person believes in you, Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you...Hard enough, and long enough, It stands to reason, that someone else will think 'If he can do it, I can do it.'" ~from Snoopy: the Musical.