Since the economic meltdown of 2009, holiday planning for Apple’s Bakery begins in mid-January.

Rising ingredient and operating costs, growing competition from grocery store in-house bakeries and shrinking discretionary spending among our customers have made it more critical for us to begin early in developing our holiday selling strategy.

Apple’s Bakery is an old-school, farm-style bakery where everything is made from scratch.  Staff continues to peel apples for apple pie, mix brown sugar and butter for delicious memory filled cookies, and cakes are adorned with all butter creamy rich frosting.  Bottom-line is Apple’s Bakery does not skimp on taste. 

Way back in January, our staff remarked about how our customer base had begun to noticeably age over the past couple of years. Through various planning sessions, we discussed what we could do to begin to attract a younger audience.

 In preparation for the 2012 holiday season, a radio advertising campaign was created in which I carried on a conversation with the listening audience. Rotating commercials focused on real ingredients made by real people setting Apple’s Bakery apart from automated bakery production selections available in the grocery store.  Additionally, the spots speak directly to the care and unconditional love our bakery team put into every item we bake.  Apple’s Bakery has established us as a slice of home, taking care of our friends and neighbors. 

That same theme is being carried out in our Facebook strategy. Our new gluten free products continue to experience double digit growth.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is our greatest single selling day of the entire year.  This is a day, traditionally, which the customer will buy everything off the shelves.  These sales will define how the season will flow. 

This year, a new display for “grab ‘n go” hostess gifts at a low price point have been added to target last minute purchases.  It is extremely important to create as many selling opportunities out of the products we produce as possible.  A new line of decorative packaging has been incorporated to encourage the customer to think of our brand a bit differently.   

 Reacting quickly and re-inventing ourselves is an advantage small business has over big business.  Apple’s Bakery has embraced these philosophies more than ever in the course of the past couple of years and this year is no different.  Our new gluten free products continue to experience double digit growth. 

By staying true to our strategy and an unwavering eye on the bottom-line, I am confident the 2012 holiday season for Apple’s Bakery will be profitable and lead us into the New Year. 

Mary Ardapple is the owner of  Apple's Bakery  in Peoria, IL.