Sometimes dreams are on your "someday" Bucket List and if they ever come to fruition it’s a bonus. I don't feel like the career I have is something I’m suffering through. I like my job - a lot - but my dream was still there, waiting and wondering if it would ever be crossed off my list.
I am a Realtor in a partnership with my sister for the past 23 years and worked in the real estate office for my parents prior to our partnership. I can’t say I dreamed of becoming a Realtor but it has been a good career and one I enjoy, especially all the people I have met over the years. BUT, since I was in high school I had a dream of one day having a little bakery and coffee shop. I love to bake and for years baked and shared with family, friends, neighbors and anyone else I bumped into. I kept thinking someday when I get older I would one day have my little place for people to stop in for fresh baked goods and coffee. About 4 years ago I realized I was getting older and if this dream of mine was ever going to become a reality I needed to start doing something about making it happen.
I was lucky to have the building already. We were purchasing the real estate building from my parents. It was on Main Street in our town in the commercial business district. There was a room in the back with a side door entrance. The room led into a small kitchen which was rarely used by anyone with a half bathroom off the kitchen. My mind started spinning at warp speed. It was small but it just might work.
I talked to my husband, my friends, and finally approached my sister/real estate partner on her thoughts of turning the back of the office into a little Grab & Go Bakery & Coffee Shop. She was a little skeptical at first but agreed and the year long process began. Through the year of frustrations and surprises it never stopped being exciting! Every step that moved me closer to opening was celebrated with family and friends as they cheered me on and helped wherever they could.
I am still a Realtor and a Partner in a Real Estate company so my hours were going to have to be limited. We decided we would be open Thursday through Saturday mornings. Finally, on April 1, 2017, we opened our doors. I say “we” because it took so many people, more than just me, to get to this day. We opened our door and held our breath. And it happened – they came.
Each year my little happy place has grown – not in size but as a business. It has become so much more than a place to grab a cup of coffee and a homemade baked good or two. It has become a gathering place. With no tables to sit around customers gather in a small space and something magical happens, they start talking to each other. The bakery is filled with warmth and happy quotes hung all over the walls. It was designed to feel like home. Wood planks on the wall, rustic cabinets and counters, my dad’s roll top desk from college is the coffee station. But more than that are the friends and family who help me at the bakery. They welcome everyone with a smile and an explanation of the “help yourself” delicious (and local) coffee, our loose leaf teas (also from a local company), and other drink options before moving onto our homemade fresh baked goods with the smells from the oven wafting through the air. It makes people smile. The atmosphere, the smells, the happy people greeting them, it is not like most places you wander into these days.
I’m often in the kitchen mixing, baking, doing dishes and looking out from the open door into the bakery to say hello, to see parents lifting their children up to peek into the display case to choose what they want, to say thank you for stopping in. When I’m not looking out the door I listen and I am filled with a feeling that is hard to describe as my lifelong dream now has a sound, a place, a feeling, I get to share with so many others and it is good. The sounds of people talking to each other, of laughter, children asking for a cookie, and I realize these are the sounds of community all within the little room outside my little kitchen. In these moments I savor the many conversations started among strangers as they gather to order some baked goods or grab a cup of coffee we hope they love, in the small space created in a dream I had so long ago.
In our bakery we celebrate birthdays with singing, birthday headbands, and a free dessert of your choice. We donate platters of baked goods to the local USO and VA. We have rock painting events and measure young ones each year on our wooden wall mounted growth chart. We have adorable gnomes living in our bakery and beaters from our mixer and mixing spoons to lick. Most of all we have fun and try to live by our motto ~ “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
So keep your someday dream on your Bucket List and every once in awhile decide if you are ready to take the leap to make it happen. Who knows where it may lead or what it might bring into your life or the lives of those around you.
My dream became something better than I ever imagined it could be.