Swedish bakery/coffee shop that features Swedish baked goods, Swedish gifts, and local art.

Dreamer: Jennifer Travis

Business: The Twisted Swede

Location: Red Oak, IA

Industry Contest: Hospitality/Restaurants

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Experience a taste of Sweden at The Twisted Swede, a new Swedish bakery and Swedish gift shop that will be located in the Swedish town of Stanton, IA. Customers can enjoy coffee and a Swedish treat while admiring the local art for sale that fills the walls of the store.
Business Description:
My dream is to have a successful FIKA/gift shop that features Swedish baked goods, gifts, and local artwork. FIKA (pronounced “fee-ka”) is coffee time in Sweden, where they share coffee, conversation, and baked treats with a friend. The Twisted Swede would offer Swedish rye bread, pies, and seven different Swedish baked treats (offering seven items is a FIKA tradition) every day. Customers could enjoy their baked items with coffee in the shop while appreciating the local works of art on the walls. The walls of the shop would be filled with local artwork for sale including my own (my designs are made from antique barbed wire).

The Twisted Swede is currently a part-time home-based business that specializes in Swedish rye bread and Swedish baked goods. The business began last summer from a desire to carry on the traditions of my Swedish heritage and my passion for baking. I live in an area that was settled by Swedes and is still predominately Swedish.

The demand for my product was much higher than expected at local farmers’ markets. My first experience was at the Red Oak Farmers’ Market, where I sold out of Swedish rye bread week after week within an hour. There is a high demand for this specialty bread because fewer people are baking bread at home and this bread is not available commercially. Customers waited at my stand to buy bread before the opening bell and often bought two or three loaves at a time. The bread was a hit for non-Swedes too as eight out of ten people who tasted a sample of the rye bread purchased the bread.

In the Swedish tradition of FIKA (coffee time in Sweden), The Twisted Swede would offer a choice of seven Swedish baked goods such as cinnamon rolls, Spritz cookies, Swedish Kringle, Swedish spice cookies (pepparkakor), and tea rings. Because the only bakery in this area is the local Hy-Vee store, homemade pies will be offered as the store becomes established.

In addition to selling Swedish baked goods, a portion of the shop would have Swedish gifts for sale.
There used to be four to five stores that sold Swedish gifts in southwest Iowa, now there are none as the last store closed in 2014. The closest store that sells Scandinavian gifts is in Elkhorn, NE.

The shop would be located in Stanton, Iowa, home of the Swedish Heritage and Cultural Center. The Twisted Swede would be a destination place for visitors, a place where they could experience a different culture, enjoy great food, and purchase local art. It would also be a social gathering place for locals and a place where they could purchase traditional Swedish foods and gifts. Like many small towns in rural Iowa, Stanton has much to offer but it has been stagnant in growth. This shop would help invigorate this small town by giving people another reason to visit and experience its remarkable Swedish culture and traditions.
Reason for Entering:
Customers want freshly baked bread, which means I need to sell my bread within 48 hours of baking.
To meet the demand of my product and expand my business, I need to increase my baking capacity by purchasing a commercial mixer, a commercial oven, and a proofer. With a standard oven and a 7 quart mixer, I cannot make bread fast enough to make the current demand.

Baking bread with yeast is a longer process as the dough has to rise twice. Plus, the air temperature and humidity affect rising time of the bread. Having a higher capacity mixer and oven would enable me to bake more loaves at the same time. A proofer provides a more consistent environment for the bread to rise, which would lessen the guesswork of when the bread is ready to bake.

I plan to purchase the commercial mixer, oven, and proofer used. New commercial baking equipment is very expensive. With the amount of restaurant auctions, I feel I could find some good, used models to start my business.

If I were to win the grand prize, I will use that money to secure a building for my business and go from being a part-time business to a full-time bakery/gift shop. Currently, there are a number of stores for sale in Stanton. Winning this money would not only help me reach my dream of owning a Swedish bake/gift shop, it would be an investment in a great small town community.
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