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Executive Summary

  • Background

    • Grandma Miller’s Cookies & Muffins was established about eight and a half years ago, and the current owner, Hannah Welles, has owned it for about two and a half years, selling it for health reasons. Hannah has an excellent rapport with her customers and is very knowledgeable about the area. Currently, the business shows a modest profit and has weathered the economic crisis well. Although the markup on the cookies is very good (i.e., sugar cookie dough sells for $2.22/lb., and the retail price of the finished cookies is $7.91/lb.), the overall cost of goods sold is about 50 percent due to the serving of light lunches, muffins, soda, and juices (see menu). As pointed out by an accountant, any sales over the current volume, 50 percent, is profit. As a result, sales could be doubled within the first twelve to eighteen months.

The Company

  • Day-to-Day Challenges and Opportunities

    • The most difficult function is following the fine line of quantity over baking and not having enough cookies later in the day. Despite a sophisticated cash register that totals an hourly sales figure, and detailed recording by Hannah, there is no set pattern of daily activity. One Tuesday could be a sellout and the next Tuesday there could be several bags of day-old cookies, which sell quickly the next day. Hannah has developed some recipes for bar cookies—using crumbled cookies as a base and adding a fruit topping and a "drizzle." These could be sold in the store or packaged for a catering truck.


      I have dropped in the shop at various times during the day and observed a very busy opening (from 7:00—8:00 a.m.) with people getting their coffee and muffins before going to work. The business slows down until lunchtime and varies throughout the afternoon. This allows for a build-up of the business, so that the ovens are used more than 10 percent of the day. (Using convection ovens, a batch of cookies can be baked in 15 minutes.)

  • Miscellaneous

    • Since this is going to be primarily a one-person operation, I plan to add business interruption insurance to the overall business insurance package. I also plan to add a disability package to my personal health insurance.

      Attached is a current resume of my educational background and a work history. However, it does not reflect my creative talents, which I have used in an antique and collectible business and in extensive family party planning. I have taken a floral design class and mold my own chocolates. I hope to expand my other business, Your Organizing Friend, through Grandma Miller’s Cookie Pantry.


      Although my professional team is not complete, I have an attorney who is handling the closing and other aspects of the purchase and lease negotiations. I also have a CPA consultant, but he is a relative and won’t be handling the actual accounting functions. Hannah’s interest in Grandma Miller’s is waning, and I feel that it is the right time and niche for me to devote my full-time and creative energies to the business.

  • Supplier

    • On November 10, 2012, I visited Grandma Miller’s dough supplier, in Holland, Michigan. She had originally started Grandma Miller’s Cookies in three locations: Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon. After a death in the family of the initial cookie dough supplier, Ceceila offered the opportunity to buy the dough business. She subsequently sold the Grandma Miller’s stores and moved to Holland and is currently involved with retail and wholesale business under the name of Jolene’s Cookies. Cecelia has indicated her willingness to help with new ideas and products.

  • Strategy

    • The first of two steps to increase sales would be to become an active member of the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce (membership is over 450). Through past Grand Rapids Chamber membership and previous employment in Muskegon, I have made many business contacts in the area: Electronics Midwest, Rogers H. Theatre, H&G Sales, and Paper Towne Goods. The business climate in Muskegon is good with predictions of additional recovery and growth in the near future. There are few empty stores and there is strong merchant cooperation (on the Saturday before Halloween the stores offered treats and I help hand out over 1,000 cookies). The cookie shop is open three Sundays a year during the January Ice Fair, Summer Art in the Streets, and the September Fall Festival.

      The second step would be implementing a strong advertising campaign. I plan to begin six months of advertising in the local paper, the Muskegon Chronicle(weekend circulation about 33,000), announcing the new ownership and inviting people in to meet the new Grandma Miller, and promoting the monthly specials. Both the Chronicle and Sentryman newspapers do public relations articles on new businesses and ownership changes. I will change the name to Grandma Miller’s Cookie Pantry and use a pantry as a focus for advertising, flyers, and business cards in the shop. After becoming familiar with the day-to-day operations, I plan to employ one person (a relative) a couple hours a day to help during busy times and learn the business in case of an extended absence. I also plan to hire one part-time person to handle all deliveries on an as-needed basis. This flexibility will also allow me to visit the various industrial, office, and health complexes to market cookie and muffin trays for business meeting and promotions. My contacts will be mostly with companies’ seminar/ group meeting planners.

      My marketing strategies include but are not limited to:

      ·         Cookie, muffin, and chocolate tie-ins to all major holidays, such as heart-shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day, muffin birthday "cakes," cookies for Santa, and cookie exchanges.

      ·         "Sweet Sixteen Special" offered every sixteenth of the month. Customers have to come into the shop to find out what the special is for that day. Can also use the day to offer free samples of new ideas.

      ·         Promote the first full week of February, which is National Muffin Week.

      ·         Offer a welcome wagon type of promotion to new residents of the Muskegon area, using published real estate closings.

      ·         Develop a special recipe for a "morning cookie" not to be offered in the shop, but only for business breakfast meetings.

      ·         Promote one day a week as D-Day (Dipit Day), for dipping customers’ cookies in chocolate.


      ·         Find the right combination of food and nonfood items for a bereavement basket, which is the fastest-growing segment of the basket industry. I would also like to expand the gift basket business already in use in the shop to include cookie bouquets and other special occasion baskets. (I attended a gift basket convention and seminar in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2011, and would like to attend one this spring.)

  • Sales

    • My future plans for the business are to maximize sales potential, which may take several years. I anticipate the expansion of the gift basket market and a build-up of wholesale accounts, including the introduction of party planning. I believe both previous owners looked into franchising, but I do not see that as an option in the short run.

  • Company Location

    • The store still looks good after almost nine years. The custom-made counters and cabinets are made of oak, with glass fronts, and good quality wallpaper makes for a neat appearance. Besides bringing in a pantry, I want to add an oak trim along the ceiling to give an overall cozy appearance. New wallpaper with matching material for curtains and for the liners of the cookie baskets will freshen up the sales area for a long time. I would like to put in a new floor covering and paint the back work area, as well as redecorate the customer bathroom.

      All convection ovens and other appliances are clean and in good working order. All bakeware, serving pieces, display trays, and utensils are suitable. The cash register has advanced features and is relatively new. Tables and chairs in the seating area are well made, heavy, and in good condition.


      The landlord keeps the facade of the building clean and well kempt. The parking lot is free of pot holes and is plowed and salted when necessary. The rear of the building is likewise, and refuse removal is consistent. The landlord is similarly conscientious with building issues. He is interested in keeping the cookie shop as a tenant and is willing to work with a new business owner.

  • SWOT Analysis

    • Strengths

      This business has been around for several years and has weathered the most recent economic crisis. There is a dedicated customer base. The financial forecast for the Muskegon area is improving and expected to continue for the foreseeable future as the area and the state rebound.


      The location needs some upkeep and enhancements, albeit minimal. Although all appliances and materials are currently in good working order, they are nine years old and may require an investment in the next few years.


      The business may be expanded with additional recipes and new gift basket options. Including local delivery for gift baskets, trays, and bouquets will complement the business and provide for additional income streams.



      The food business is always susceptible in times of economic downturn. Eating out may be seen as a luxury that may have to be cut out when money is tight. Although the economy is improving, many people are still suffering economic hardship.

The Competition

  • The Competition

    • Area competition is very small for the cookie and muffin business. The lunch business in downtown Muskegon consists mainly of Karen’s Cafe across the street, which serves quiche, croissants, sandwiches, and various desserts. One block away is Penny’s Deli, which serves deli sandwiches, salads, and beverages. The Boothe Bar takes care of the hamburger crowd. There are few other eateries in town. Limited seating at Grandma Miller’s (eight inside and two outside during the summer) has encouraged customers to phone in their orders and pick them up along with a drink and dessert. Two blocks away a coffeehouse has opened and stays open until 11:00 p.m. Although it serves some of the same muffins and cookies as Grandma Miller’s, and the coffee bean prices are comparable, the coffeehouse attracts a different crowd than Grandma Miller’s.

Marketing Outline & Sales Strategy

  • Menu

    • Grandma Miller’s Cookie Pantry Offers:

      Gourmet Cookies

      ·         Sugar, in various seasonal shapes and designs

      ·         Oat Bran Chocolate Chip (no cholesterol)

      ·         Oatmeal & Golden Raisin

      ·         Peanut Butter Crunchie

      ·         Chocolate Chocolate Chip/White Chocolate Chunks

      ·         Chocolate Chunk

      ·         Chocolate Chip

      ·         Chocolate Chip Pecan

      ·         Crispie Chewie

      ·         Macadamia Nut/White Chocolate Chunks

      ·         Cookie of the Month

      ·         2-pound cookie heart


    • Muffins

      ·         Banana Chocolate Chip

      ·         Cranberry Nut

      ·         Cherry Yogurt

      ·         Blueberry

      ·         Apple Cinnamon

      ·         Orange Blossom

      ·         Carrot Cake

      ·         Almond Poppyseed

      ·         Lemon Poppyseed

      ·         Zucchini Raisin

      ·         Pumpkin

      ·         Peach Granola

      ·         Corn

      ·         Low-Fat Fruit Bran

      ·         Five-Grain

      ·         Mini Muffins (dozen only)


      ·         Molded Chocolates

      ·         Cookie & Muffin Trays

      ·         Cookie Bouquets


      ·         Gift Baskets

    • Other Menu Items

      ·         Light Lunches

      ·         Sandwiches or Croissants

      ·         Fresh-brewed flavored coffee by the cup or by the pound

      ·         Variety of Beverages

      ·         Soup of the Day

      ·         Chili (in season)

      ·         Sticky Buns

      ·         Bagels

      ·         Chicken & Tuna Salads


      ·         Shipping, including gift wrapping and postage

      ·         Local delivery—homes, businesses, funeral homes, hospitals, schools, etc.

      ·         Special dietary needs/special orders


      ·         Gift packaging, including ribbons, balloons, gift cards, etc.


  • Resume

    • Donna Crawford

      Business professional with proven effectiveness in sales, personnel, and consumer relations. Skilled in coordinating resources, people, and ideas to produce maximum results. Analytical, creative, and capable of working with minimal supervision. Interest and demonstrated ability in public relations, events planning, and fundraising.



      ·         10 years in real estate sales

      ·         Residential: Marketed new and used homes and condominiums with effective advertising; researched financing to guide buyers through to closing.

      ·         Commercial: Sold small businesses using financial analysis and research; negotiated details between buyer and seller, their attorneys, accountants, and landlords; marketed office space at the Center Point Building.


      ·         Six years in civil service and at a private personnel agency

      ·         Administered tests, conducted interviews, implemented special programs.

      ·         Restructured and organized manual office systems to more efficiently meet the demands of a municipal agency.

      Project Management:

      ·         One year as a field representative with Floral Worldwide Delivery Group (FWDG) and long-term association with the Muskegon Historical Society.

      ·         Traveled nationally to audit FWDG’s members’ floral orders for quality to insure association standards, supported audits with written and photographic evaluations.

      ·         Wrote monthly newsletter for historical society and prepared press releases.

      ·         Planned fundraising events with proceeds ranging from $500 to $85,000, including menus, themes, publicity, and the like.

      ·         Developed theme events for various individuals and organizations.


      ·         15 years in family antique business


      ·         Set up displays at various locations in Michigan. Sales included sharing information regarding antiques, their history, and use.

    • Education

      ·        Michigan Technological University

      ·         B.S., business administration

      ·         Major: marketing

      Continuing Education

      Courses in management, special events marketing, travel tourism and convention planning, and introductory computer course.


      ·         Muskegon Chamber of Commerce

      ·         Zeeland Historical Society


      ·         Community Assistance Services, Inc. (group homes), board of directors

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