A new business has opened up in Grand Forks in the former West End Global Market and Deli location across from the Grand Forks Station Pub.
Holly Hooper, who has operated a catering business for several years in town and works in the kitchen at the Station Pub, took the store over and has been making and selling fresh baked goods.
Marvelous Munchies Bakeshop has been open for just over a week and business has been good.
“I’ve cooked in different places around town,” she said. “A couple of years ago I did the farmers’ market. I was the Pastry Chef then, so a lot of my customers know me as the Pastry Chef.”
Hooper really enjoyed selling her pastries at the farmers’ market and getting to know the customers.
“I would love to see those people come up here,” she said. “I’m already starting to see a few of them.”
The last couple of years she has worked as a line cook at the Station Pub. She, however, missed baking and jumped at the chance of opening her own bake shop.
“I like to work for myself,” she said. “I have a passion to bake and I found in the cooking industry I didn’t get a chance to bake as much as I wanted. (I also saw an opportunity) to fill a niche in town because we don’t have a bake shop.”
Hooper said she talked to several people around town who said Grand Forks needed a bake shop that served fresh baked goods.
“I saw the opportunity and I took it,” she said. “I had a few things at home I could bring here and with Dean (Engen’s) help, I was able to open a bake shop and hopefully I’ll go forward with it with the support of the community.”
Hooper makes all the baked goods herself from scratch. She also sells cold drinks, chai tea, regular tea, and fresh French-pressed coffee.
“I’ve been doing white breads and brown breads,” she said. “I’ve been doing white herb, herb and cheese. In my browns I’ve been doing whole wheat, whole wheat sunflower and flax.”
She also makes cookies, tarts and cinnamon buns. She bakes cakes and has several gluten-free baking options as well.
“What I’ve been doing is making what I know sells,” said Hooper. “Someone will come in and ask for cinnamon buns, so I’ll tell them what day I’m making cinnamon buns. Just until I get a feel for what the customers want.”
Hooper also does catering for small groups and has made deli-style sandwiches in the past—something she hopes to expand on in the future. Hooper said business has been very good and she has been getting great feedback as well from customers.
“I’m getting lots of support which is really nice,” she said. “I’ve had great days every day. I’ve been doing awesome. The rapport with customers has been great. They’re really glad I’m here.”
Hooper said people in the neighbourhood are happy to have a store in which they can drop by for some treats and a hot or cold drink.
“There’s nothing like this in this area,” she said. “They have all that kind of stuff downtown but not up here.”
She was also fortunate to be able to walk into a location which already had a commercial kitchen set up.
She is hoping to be able to build the business up and become big enough to hire staff and continue to grow.
For now, though, she is content to be able to do what she loves.
“I love baking,” said Hooper. “It makes me happy. I love watching the dough grow. (I love) making it and watching all the stuff come together; taking it out of the oven and then giving it to the customers and making them happy. Fulfilling the need to feed. It makes me feel calm. It de-stresses me.”
Hooper has her official Red Seal cook certificate, which she got after attending Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton.
She came to Grand Forks as a teenager and has worked a number of different jobs but her favourite has always been baking. She says that Grand Forks is a great place of live with lots of energy.
“I really enjoy Grand Forks,” she said. “It’s a really good hub—two hours to Kelowna; two hours to Nelson. This place can be a happening little town as people start to move in. We’re starting to see some young families move in. I think the bakery will do well here.”
The store is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. except on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays when she closes at 2 p.m.