Photos Rob Smith
It’s a new day for Bake and Bloom in Rome, Georgia. A bright, cheerful entrance welcomes customers to the shop’s new digs at 407-B Broad Street, making it more convenient than ever for people to find colorful handmade treats, delicious cakes, and much more. In the first month of 2022, bakery owners Rebecca and Corey Lance have taken the leap to expand their business by increasing their public visibility. As Corey puts it, “It’s a new spot, a new year, and a new us!” They’re excited about the move, and with plenty of good reasons.
When asked why the Lances moved Bake and Bloom to Broad Street, Corey simply answers: “Foot traffic.” Their original location was fine for a start, but it soon proved too small for a growing business, not to mention difficult to find for some customers. And it wasn’t located in an area conducive to window-shopping.
This move to Rome’s historic downtown solves those problems. Corey says, “Around here, when you think of Broad Street, you think of the big leagues.” So, why did they not move to Broad Street sooner? Rebecca explains, “We needed a practice run before doing that.”
Making the move
For ten months or so, the Lances actively kept their eyes open for a new location. Corey says, “The other place was cute and quaint, but we always knew we wanted to move downtown.” Rebecca adds, “Really, we had known we wanted to move from the old place from the time we moved in there.” Then one day, they were visiting one of their customers, Billy Newby of Newby Farm & Vineyard (Bake and Bloom provides Newby’s dessert boxes), and they asked him about the unoccupied space next door.
“Whenever we happened to be over there,” Rebecca says, “we would look in the window. The place had sat empty forever.” Newby gave them the owner’s contact information, and they called. Two days later they met the owner and talked. After some negotiation, they struck a deal and started the process of relocation.
For the most part, the building’s interior was an empty shell, but the new landlord was cooperative in accommodating the Lances with the structural changes Bake and Bloom needed. A room was added for decorating cakes and other treats. Rebecca says, “What is now the kitchen was just a space with a gravel floor and no ceiling.” The shop’s front door and display windows were moved several feet closer to the sidewalk, allowing more open floor space inside. A bathroom was added. However, hints of the building’s history remain; the tin ceiling from the 1830s was left intact and freshened up with a new coat of paint.
The Lances have been careful to maintain a certain aesthetic continuity between their previous shop and this new space. For instance, Bake and Bloom’s trademark pink and white color scheme has been repeated here. As she did in their original place, Rebecca broke out her brushes to create original wall art; she hand-painted a tossed pattern of kitchenware, everything from mixers to oven mitts, each object created in a thick-and-thin French style. On another wall, she painted a monochromatic mural (in various shades of pink, of course) of downtown landmarks, featuring Rome’s iconic clocktower.
Thanks to the Lances’ tireless efforts, the whole process happened quickly. They closed their old shop on Christmas Eve and opened their new one on January 4th. Corey says, “That’s usually the week we take off, anyway—Christmas to New Year’s.” Rebecca points out, “It wasn’t a break for us, though. It was for our staff, but not for us.” The Lances were in their new space on December 26th, working, cleaning, painting, renovating.
Step by step
The Lances have come to this new location one careful step at a time: from baking cookies and cakes in their home kitchen, to a small shop in a secluded corner, and now to prime real estate in the heart of their hometown.
For Rebecca, owning a bakery was a dream that came and went and then came back again. As a young married couple, she and Corey lived in a loft apartment in downtown Adairsville, where she tried to start a baking business, following the cottage industry model (that is, baking at home). Those plans were put on hold when she became pregnant and, suddenly, the smell of baking made her sick.
Being an artist at heart, Rebecca still wanted to do something creative, so she founded Rebecca Marie Photography. “I stumbled into it,” she says, “but that was never the plan.” The Lances worked that business for eight years. “Then,” Rebecca says, “we ran into a friend at a store, and he mentioned that I had made a cookie cake for him in high school. He said, ‘You need to make me one of those again.’ So random. That week I made a cookie cake and posted it on Facebook.” From that posting, other people asked for cookie cakes, so in August of 2018, the Lances started a new cottage baking business.
Working in a bakery business was not exactly what Corey had in mind for himself, but as Rebecca puts it: “I roped him into it. I was busy doing all the baking and decorating. It became too much, so I taught Corey how to bake.” He picked it up fast. He often baked until 4 or 5 A.M., then Rebecca would start decorating. Corey says, “We were passing each other in the hallway.” At first, they only made cookie cakes, but soon customers were asking for other things, such as cupcakes, decorative cookies, and wedding cakes.
Corey says, “We were working from home, loading cookie boxes in our car and making deliveries.” Rebecca adds, “Our kitchen and dining room were constantly covered in cakes and bags and boxes.” The Lances did that for two years as the business grew. Finally, they got to the point where they were having to turn customers away because of the workload.
In August of 2020, the Lances opened Bake and Bloom on Spider Webb Drive. Corey says, “We looked at each other and decided this must be something bigger than we thought, so we took the plunge.” One career built on another to give this enterprise a kick-start. “Rebecca’s photography gave her a big following on social media,” Corey says, “and that’s what made this business successful.” It wasn’t long, however, before it became clear that if the business was going to move on to the next level of success it needed to relocate.
Creative solutions to customers’ needs
Rebecca’s cakes designs reflect her unique creative flair. Her designs are unexpected, even eccentric, more artistic than some customers might expect. For instance, when it comes to wedding cakes, Rebecca says, “Of course, I can do a plain white cake, but I like to use different textures and colors. We like to do fun stuff. We’re open to unusual requests.”
When preparing for some special event, many customers come to Bake and Bloom unsure of what they want. Rebecca walks them through the options: flavors, fillings, frostings. She makes a variety of cupcakes that reflect the customer’s choices and then hosts a cake tasting. From there, the customer can make an educated decision about what to order. Some regular customers come in and say, “Here’s our theme. Just let Rebecca do whatever she wants.” They know when they pick up their order it will be a surprise, but a pleasant one.
As wedding photographers, the Lances tasted many wedding cakes made by other bakeries, and sometimes those cakes were stale and dry. Rebecca says, “All our cakes are fresh and moist. We make them on the day of or the day before our customers’ events.” Quality, taste, and freshness are important to the Lances. Rebecca says, “I love to see people on Facebook say, ‘That cake was so good,’ and I can say, “Hey! That’s my cake!’”
The months to come will be a time of experimentation for Bake and Bloom. The Lances are eager to try new things, new recipes, new offerings. Corey says, “We’ll do things like waffle cones for our cookie dough, and maybe offer soft-serve sometime down the road.” Rebecca adds, “We already serve sausage balls and cinnamon rolls, but we want to start doing brunch, with things like sandwiches and quiche.”
Also, they are exploring increasing their store hours. “We’ll watch the foot traffic for a while and decide on the new hours,” Rebecca says. “With the two wineries nearby, business is starting to build up on this end of Broad Street. Most of the restaurants are further down, so we want to offer something here.”
It’s been nine years now since the Lances went into business with Rebecca’s photography work. That lead, eventually to this. They want to keep moving, evolving. Rebecca says, “We’re just excited to expand, to get more involved in the Broad Street community, things like block parties and activities on the Town Green.” Looking toward future possibilities, Corey says, “Maybe our next step would be to keep this location and open another one, expanding into another city. But one step at a time—slow and steady wins the race.”
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