Jim Anderson always loved baking bread. Having been stationed in Germany with the US Army, he came to love the taste of authentic Bavarian pretzels. “I really missed the pretzels after I came back to the states. After retiring and coming back to Aiken, I decided to start making pretzels for myself and our family in our kitchen. I also brought the pretzels along to get-togethers with friends and relatives and they loved them. With that encouragement and a lot of planning, my wife and I decided to open Brezelmann – Bavarian Pretzel Shop in Aiken” in late 2015. Because the baking and selling was done from home, the business was launched under the South Carolina Cottage Food Law, which restricted sales to the city Farmer's Market and other direct-to-customer venues. “That was okay with us because we could find out how much demand there was without risking a lot of money”.
The business faced three challenges in turning their idea into a business.
- First, “trying to duplicate the Bavarian pretzels we had in Germany,”. They looked at countless recipes and baking techniques, figuring out the right mix of ingredients and the proper technique. It was a trial-and-error process. When they got the recipe right, they had to learn to scale it for larger production.
- Second, to validate that there was sufficient market demand for an ‘authentic Bavarian pretzel’ in the Aiken market area.
- And finally, assuming they passed that hurdle, getting access to a commercial kitchen to boost the production capacity well beyond that of the Anderson’s home kitchen.
In nine months Brezelmann’s has reached positive cash-flow. Sales have grown rapidly to a level that clearly justifies the need for a larger kitchen. Given these encouraging results, the Anderson’s have secured access to a ‘shared use’ commercial kitchen. Necessary local and state government inspections of this facility are soon to be completed, opening a pathway to wholesaling their pretzels. In one short year Jim and his wife have proven the viability of the business that they originally ‘hoped’ was possible!
In attending a Chamber After Hours Event, Jim Anderson met a SCORE volunteer who took an enthusiastic interest in the Anderson’s new business. In subsequent meetings they focused on the planning needed to scale the business. “I had no idea that an organization like SCORE existed until I met Ron. He has been a great source of encouragement, a respected sounding board, and is helping us get to the next level!”