Amy Powers is savoring the success of the Village Hive Bakery & Local Food Collective, LLC, a business she started in 2013 with assistance from the Wisconsin SBDC at UW-Stevens Point. The Village Hive space is a bakery converted to a shared-use kitchen ideal for the small Central Wisconsin community of Amherst. Shared-use kitchens are certified, fully equipped commercial spaces used by entrepreneurs to produce food products.
“By sharing the kitchen with many different bakers, I can spread the cost, making the business more profitable,” says Powers, who took full ownership of the bakery in 2012. “Much of the bakery was underutilized in the past. Now the kitchen really gets maximum usage.”
Powers and her husband considered selling the bakery, but discovered interest from several individuals in the community to produce goods on a part-time or seasonal basis. “I thought we could see if lots of different people baking in the bakery could keep it going in a small town,” says Powers.
SBDC consultant Mary Wescott helped Powers research the feasibility of the shared kitchen business concept and write a business plan. Powers considers Wescott a valuable resource that she can contact whenever she needs business advice. She encourages other entrepreneurs at the Hive to do the same. “I ask my tenants ‘Do you have a business plan?’ and then I give them Mary Wescott’s contact information. I tell them, ‘This is your best next move.’ The businesses that meet with Mary are the ones that are the most successful.”
Seven tenants currently use the Hive’s certified kitchen on a regular basis. Products produced include candy, pies, kombucha tea, artisan breads, hummus, egg rolls and more. Other tenants use the Hive to conduct food-related classes. Along with other outlets, tenants market their goods at the Hive’s retail space, which is open Thursday through Saturday.
Powers expects continued interest in the locally made products and food-related courses. She also expects to grow the number of food entrepreneurs interested in renting space at the Hive. “Every day is new. It’s fun to see where it goes!”
Visit the Village Hive on Facebook to learn more: facebook.com/thevillagehive.