Bakers Journal

Opening strategies for small bakeries

September 11, 2019
By Diane Chiasson

Seven easy ways to create buzz and to ensure your grand opening day is a success

You have a new bakery store that you’ve dreamed of for years, but that dream can be short-lived if you can’t attract customers.

If you are ready to launch your brand new store, a grand opening event will generate excitement and a sense of community. It’s a great marketing strategy to create buzz in your neighbourhood. Here’s seven easy strategies to create buzz and to ensure that your grand opening day succeeds:  

1. Create a schedule and a ‘to-do’ list
Set a date and time for your grand opening that will attract the most customers, such as a Saturday afternoon. When choosing, you should be aware of upcoming events in your area to avoid competion. Check what’s happening locally and nationally when selecting your date to avoid having a grand opening the same days as with major events and holidays. You should also know how long your grand opening will be. You will have to decide if you want the morning or afternoon crowd and how many hours you are prepared to stay open. Advertise your grand opening date and time on your website, on local community calendars and your Chamber of Commerce.

2. Set a budget
This is absolutely the first thing you should do. Create a budget early in the planning process to avoid overspending. Grand openings are part of your marketing budget. When determining your budget, you should consider the level of visibility you want for your bakery, and how many people you want to reach. In general for a yearly marketing plan, most bakeries will allocate from 10 to 20 per cent of their first year’s marketing budget towards this event. Make sure that you set funds aside for invitations, advertising, entertainment, party supplies and decorations and grand opening giveaways and prizes.


3. Recruit volunteers or hire extra employees
Make sure your bakery has extra staff on hand for backup or to simply handle unexpected demand. Give yourself enough time to find and train employees before the grand opening. Before you open your bakery, you must find your bakery’s weaknesses and fix them. Get a small selection of your closest and most objective friends as well as family members to test out your bakery operation, recipes, and staff. These visits should be totally free, with a limited menu and your guests should understand that they are in a test run and are there to help your bakery succeed.

4. Spread the word with Grand Opening ads
If your bakery is located near a destination with high pedestrian traffic, like downtown or in a mall, consider printing and distributing an eye-catching flyer or postcard. Perhaps you could even design a coupon and team up with local events and festivals such as art shows, college events, parades, food tastings, and local music events to pass out your flyers and coupons. Take advantage of locations surrounded by office complexes: This means more local potential customers. Consider cross-promoting with other merchants. Check your pharmacy, gas station, office supply store, florist, or even clothing stores where you could ask staff to distribute your flyers. Don’t forget to hand out flyers to places like your neighbourhood library, visitors centre, or pin it on community boards in local cafes. Offer a free gift, discount or a complimentary drink or dessert on your flyer to entice potential customers to attend.

5. Start building your social media campaign right away
If you don’t already have social media accounts, start working on your campaign well before your event. Don’t wait until your business is running to become more active on social media – get in early. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, a social campaign informs your future customers of your grand opening.  

6. Include traditional media channels
Local media can be one of the greatest resources for your grand opening. Send a personal invitation to local newspapers, trade publications, as well as radio and television stations.

7.   Create a BIG BUZZ!
Hang a large banner on your storefront and place a large sign in the window announcing the grand opening. Decorate your bakery creatively: Partner with your local florist to brighten up your bakery with beautiful flowers. Decorate a wall with artwork from local artists; it’s a great way to build a good relationship with your community. Schedule a series of events such as a cupcake eating contest or cake decorating demonstration. Hire a professional photographer to make your grand opening event special. Team up with your chosen charity as they will help promote your grand opening to their patrons to encourage more people to attend. Hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for your bakery… this will certainly be a good way to generate positive buzz.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc. She is the industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338 or toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or email or visit

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