Even though it’s been nearly 10 years since opening Amycakes LLC, co-owner Amy Bloodworth doesn’t have to think hard to remember her feelings when starting the bakery in summer 2009.
“It was very exciting, but it was the biggest thing I had ever done,” she says about opening the shop, then located at 308 W. McDaniel St. – now the home of Tinga Tacos. “So it was a little scary too.”
Today, Amycakes produces an assortment of sweet treats at 1108 E. Walnut St., its home since 2014. The bakery occupies 1,500 square feet on the first floor of a historic house. It’s by no means a large shop. But it is bigger than the 1,175-square-foot space Bloodworth – along with her parents and co-owners Marty and Lisa McGehee – purchased from Barb Baker for an undisclosed price a decade ago. Baker retired from The Bake House in 2009, and Bloodworth says she trained with her for two months as part of the purchase agreement.
“Our kitchen and decorating room was one tiny room, smaller than our kitchen now,” she says. “[Now] we have space to make a lot more product. We wouldn’t be able to make the amount of product we do now in that tiny kitchen.”
In the oven
Amycakes’ products includes cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and cake truffles. Pies are sold seasonally.
Bloodworth says cakes are at the heart of her business, which has created around 30 varieties, such as banana split, chocolate-covered raspberry and her latest, peanut butter and jelly. According to the website, prices generally range from $23 for a 6-inch round cake to $153 for up to a 10-inch tiered cake.
Printed order sheets for the baked goods almost completely cover the refrigerators in the bakery’s decorating room on a regular basis. Bloodworth says baking volume ranges between 50 and 100 orders per week. The busiest season is long, running May-December.
It translated to record revenue of $230,000 in 2018, Bloodworth says, up 37 percent from 2017. The sales follow Amycakes’ annual trend of exceeding the previous tally each year since opening.
Some of that growth is attributable to the bakery’s website, which she estimates now generates 65 percent of company sales. The remainder comes from in-store or phone orders. E-commerce has grown gradually, which Bloodworth says was an ideal way to showcase the Amycakes product line.
“The website is something I work on every single day,” she says of its blog, newsletter and a Sweet Treats Rewards program that earns discounts with every purchase.
Paula Melton, a customer since 2011, says she learned of Amycakes via its website while cake shopping for her daughter’s baby shower.
“I wanted something from someone who owned a small business in town and not just a big bakery,” she says.
Eight years later, Melton says she has almost placed more orders than she can count. She purchases around eight cakes a year for family members’ birthdays, in addition to maple pecan cinnamon rolls – her husband Dwight’s favorite – and cupcakes she brings to her workplace, accounting firm Decker & DeGood PC.
“I won’t get a cake anywhere else,” she says, estimating she’s spent $5,000-$6,000 in cakes alone since 2011. “I’ll pay more every time, I don’t care. I’m a cake snob.”
Bloodworth says she’s been baking for nearly as long as she can remember, bonding in the kitchen with her grandmother Hazel Searcy, who’s now 93 and living in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
“My grandma is an amazing baker,” Bloodworth says. “For every holiday, I would be baking with her.”
While her grandmother’s baking talents were instilled in her, Bloodworth didn’t envision pursuing it as a career until college at Drury University. She graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in arts administration.
“That’s when I decided my goal was to open a bakery,” she says, adding she acquired some experience selling baked goods at South Avenue Pizza Co., where she worked as a waitress in 2008 and 2009. Shortly thereafter, she caught word of Baker’s interest in selling The Bake House, and Amycakes was born.
It wasn’t smooth sailing from the beginning, Bloodworth says, recalling that while her mother helped out, Bloodworth was the only baker and decorator. That led to frequent 80-hour workweeks that first year.
“We realized a few months in we needed help,” she says, resulting in adding staff that today has reached six and an online customer database of 3,000.
Walk-ins were a much bigger focus in the early years, Bloodworth says.
“Now, it would be probably 95 percent custom orders,” she says. “Walk-ins are a very small percentage of what we do.”
Everything produced in the bakery is made from scratch, Bloodworth says, with no cake mixes, premade icings or artificial ingredients.
“It’s definitely more time consuming to make, but the taste is worth it,” she says, adding she can always tell when a cake is made from a boxed mix. “Taste and flavor has to be our primary goal. If we don’t have that, then we don’t have anything.”
She considers shipping products a long-term goal, as she says there currently isn’t a cost-effective and secure way to box and send baked goods across town or state lines. One thing she definitely has no plans to do is move again.
“I love this location and I intend to be here for a really long time,” she says. “This is a great neighborhood.”
She’s leading nonprofits through open-book management — a journey that started with her own charity as a case study.
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