.iTown visited with Jennifer Wyse, the owner of Mill Street Gourmet Pastries, at her recently opened shop in the Old Village neighborhood of Plymouth
.iTownOnline: How long have you been open now?
Jennifer: Since Halloween. We have been working at it for a while, and in fact, we even were able to serve samples of our product at the recent Plymouth Taste Fest and the Old Village Haunted Block Party, but we officially opened on Halloween.
How is it going so far?
Great. People seem to genuinely like what we offer. With our location by the train tracks (the location is just north of them on Mill), we were able to run out samples of our products to people that were waiting for the trains. They may have questioned why someone was running coming up to their car, but once they saw what we had for them, no one turned us down! We also offer a train delay discount so if you find yourself going South on Mill St. and stopped by the train, come in for 10% off your purchase.
Tell us more about your products…
We have more ideas for products and offerings than we can reasonably stock, so we’re continuing to adjust. We are finding our tarts, cookies and cheesecakes to be popular. People really seem to like our individual tarts! We offer several kinds including cranberry pecan, blueberry and pear with almond.
As we see in your display case, people can choose individual items or whole cakes and pies, and also buy in quantities as well…
Yes…but what we have on hand at a given time, especially in whole cakes or pies, is only a small portion of what we offer, so if people are looking for a whole cake or a large quantity of an item, we encourage them to call us in advance – and we’ll have it fresh and ready for them when they arrive.
You have tables and a nice decor here - someone can choose something and enjoy it here too…
Absolutely, we also have fresh-brewed, locally roasted gourmet coffee, espresso and cappuccino, and as a signature item, our own fresh-made hot chocolates, like White chocolate-peppermint or dark chocolate. They are very rich – made from melted chocolate and heavy crème. We also have free Wi-Fi available.
So your background prior to opening your shop is in the baking or foodservice industry?
No, not at all! I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and moved with my husband down to Texas where I worked in aerospace Lockheed Martin for several years, but both my husband and I wanted to return home and open our own businesses. This is something I have always wanted to do.
OK, I need to make the obvious bad pun – your pastry shop isn’t rocket science, but it did represent a significant change for you, and a geographic move that is in the opposite direction of what many are doing. Why did you decide to locate here, and what did you do to prepare?
We did want to come home – both my husband and I grew up around here - I am from Canton and we have returned there. We also wanted to raise our boys here. I chose Plymouth because the demographics are good, and there is a great community-feel for this type of business. The special events that are held here also enable us to expand our range of potential customers to the people who visit, so that was also a factor.
I began preparing for this while I was still in Texas. I obtained an MBA degree, and took courses geared toward starting a small business, with this specific business in mind. It was very satisfying to take classes without concern for what I had on a transcript or even my grade-point average, and just focus on learning what I needed to make this business go.
Our economy is not great, and discretionary income is down – what are you doing to achieve success?
I have been getting involved in a lot of activities to make people aware of us. Advertising, networking, sampling, talking to restaurants about handling our items as their desserts, website interviews…We are also doing things like Muffin Mondays, where we offer a dozen muffins for $6, customer rewards cards, coupons and the “Train Delay Discount” I mentioned earlier.
Tell us about your team. Who else helps you make your shop such a sweet place to visit?
It’s a great group, and we have fun - Elaine Reimers is our pastry chef with a lot of experience, Anne Kaczor is our Dessert and Cake Decorator, Peg Carnegie is our baker, Jacqueline Stewart and Anthony Facassa are our Assistant Chefs – I couldn’t do this without them.
We offer gift baskets featuring an assortment of many of our items. Come try us!
Mill Street Gourmet Pastries is at 985 N. Mill St. in Plymouth. Ph: 734.446.5533, or on the web at www.millstreetgp.com.