North Country home-based business rises to retail bakery status

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March 10, 2015

NH SBDC is celebrating its 30th anniversary by highlighting just some of the many small business clients we've had over the years. 

While the state was battling epic snowstorms, Magdalena Randall was busy setting up a retail bakery site in downtown Lancaster. Her Polish Princess Bakery had outgrown her family home after three years of providing artisan breads and other baked goods to the region. Magdalena got her start 6 years ago when she brought her first 18 loaves to the Lancaster Farmer’s Market and they quickly sold out. She added the Berlin Farmer’s Market after that success.

shelves of breadShe soon expanded her skills and her offerings to include breads with Italian, French, German and Polish origins. She bakes several kinds of rolls and more than 10 types of bread including wheat, various ryes and baguettes.

Here in early March, she awaits the installation of a European bread oven in the new retail space, so she’s without her main product. However, she’s been selling her breakfast pastries, cookies, quiche and soups, and a little bit of bread.

Magdalena, who is originally from Poland, first heard about the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center’s North Country business advisor Stewart Gates back in 2006 or 2007, after reading an article about his services. “I wasn’t ready to open the business yet, but I thought it was amazing that a resource like this was available,” she said.

Magdalena ramped up planning by first taking an entrepreneurial course through the now-defunct Micro-Credit organization, and the instructor of that course recommended Stewart to her just at the moment she had begun thinking of expanding her baking to outside her home.

“I met with him once a week over the summer...working out the numbers and trying to figure out the economics,” she said. She and Stewart worked through a checklist of all the things she needed to consider.

When the downtown Lancaster property became available, she knew it was time to move on it. While she says it was “convenient” to be doing all her baking in her home, “it was also time to grow and to stop living between the bags of flour in the kitchen!”

She ultimately got both a bank loan and a loan from the town of Lancaster. Once The Polish Princess is fully operational, with her ovens installed and what she hopes will be a steady stream of customers, she’ll meet with Stewart again and go over the financial data together. She knows she’ll need ongoing advice in this phase of her development.

“Just because someone like me has an idea about a business doesn’t mean we know the business side of things!” she said.