LEFT OF CENTER By Joshua Maloni
To mark five fabulous years dishing out delicious desserts, the world-famous Village Bake Shoppe is holding a customer appreciation day on Nov. 12.
"I want to thank the community," owner Mike Fiore said. "I want to thank all of our customers. Just a special shoutout to my employees. A big 'Thank you' to everyone."
Next Saturday, Mike and his wife, Lindsay, will offer complimentary cookies.
If you're still reading this (I, myself, am already waiting in line), they're also giving customers a sizable discount. Those spending $10 will receive a 10 percent discount. A $20 purchase will be reduced by 20 percent - and so on, up to 50 perfect off a $50 purchase.
The offer is good in store only, and does not apply to online transactions.
So, with that hockey player's doughnut shop on every other corner, how did the Village Bake Shoppe make it to five years - and grow its customer base in the process?
"Five years ago, I said I wanted to make this place an attraction," Fiore said. "Building this place to make it warm, friendly; good product; I think the word of mouth has spread, and we're growing little by little. And I think people still want that small, mom and pop shop, instead of the franchise and the chains, where it's all the same.
"Here you're getting customized service, quality product and a great time."
The key to repeat customers - happy, lip-licking, dreaming-of-"Mile-High Apple Pie" patrons - is simple.
"I have the best staff," Fiore said. "My staff has helped me grow, as far as the pastry goes. My staff is extremely talented and reliable. They're like family to me."
Sweet success, he noted, is the result of "making sure that the product has the quality it deserves - that the customer deserves, as well."
That, and, "Lots of prayer. Lots of prayer. And a lot of hard work - that's really what it is," Fiore said.
In the next five years, his goals include a "second location; more wholesale production - we supply a lot of restaurants their desserts. I want to probably double that in the next two to three years," Fiore said. "I also want our gift basket, cookie tray business to exceed what we're doing now. Go back to the Village Bake Shoppe roots of the mid- to late-90s with the original owners. That's where I want to see us."
You'll see me, and scones, I mean scores, of other people gleefully munching on cookies and a "Cake in a Cup" next weekend, admiring the Fiores' pluck and determination.
The Village Bake Shoppe is located at 417 Center St., and online at www.villagebakeshoppe.com.