Wish Us Luck…

It is two pie-baking days before Thanksgiving 2014.  PJP Buttonwood was open today for order pickups and general pie shopping and several customers mentioned how serene we all seemed.  And that is because today we were merely the calm before the storm.  You know how they say that immediately before a tornado it gets eerily quiet?  Sort of like that.

Here is the scoop on Thanksgiving pies.  We have closed our ordering system yesterday at around 1,600 pies.  I KNOW, RIGHT?  And you may well be thinking “well, you said you wanted 2,000 orders!” and now is when I remind you that we are dramatic women with enormous pie domination goals and so, throwing an outrageous number like 2,000 out there seemed legit at the time.  We spent a lot of time yesterday discussing if, and when, we should stop taking orders and finally, the simple issue of logistics demanded that we take down the online ordering link.  Beyond the physical part of baking 1,600 pies…where in our 1,000 square foot space are we going to place them to cool, box, and be organized for pickup?  I still don’t know, so if you have any thoughts, you know where to find us tomorrow.  I’m almost leaning toward a bouncer at the front door.  He could radio in the orders and we could bring them to the front door and exchange cash for pies…

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Tomorrow, we have approximately 500 pies scheduled for pickup, with the remainder by 5:30 pm on Wednesday.  And while I should be sleeping, I’m actually finding it hard to relax this evening because my brain keeps whispering “500 PIES” at me, much like the creepy lady in Poltergeist that always whispered “Carol Ann…come to the light…”  I’m basically freaking my own self out at this point in the game.

Wish us luck tomorrow.  Luck that we finish baking all the pies.  Luck that we finish before customers show up.  Luck that we don’t get overly tired, and thus terribly grouchy with each other.  Luck that the PJP pies that grace the 1,600 or more Thanksgiving tables over the next few days are delicious and show all of our love and hard work…

Thank you…

 

 

 

 

My Feet.

We’ve officially survived our first PJP On The Road experience this weekend.  The King’s Daughters Holiday Extravaganza was our official foray into the festival experience.  Here are my thoughts from 18 hours of talking about PJP to 3,000 to 5,000 shoppers…

  1. I’m putting ten thoughts here, but honestly, the main thought I had was “I would like to sit down for 3,204,125 hours when this festival is over.”  Frame everything else I say here with the reminder that there exists no cute shoe in this world that is comfortable for nine hours IN A ROW.
  2. Festivals are actually sort of fun.  You know what isn’t fun?  Hauling all the stuff in to create a cute booth and then hauling all of your cute booth stuff out to the car when it is over.  And then unpacking your car and taking it all back into your store and figuring out what to do with it all.  You know what someone should sell at a booth at the festival?  That service.
  3. People who come to these events to sell their product are hardcore.  For the most part, the venue was crowded and hot, bathroom breaks were sparse, and the food for purchase from the Holiday Inn bordered on sketchy.  The snack bar offered a “vegeterian” option.  It took everything in my soul not to whip out a Sharpie and correct the spelling error.
  4. If you can staff your booth just right, you can take turns shopping and spend 1/3 of your booth revenue on Jamberry nails, Pink Zebra candles, and Origami Owl necklaces.  Working while taking breaks to shop is my niche market.
  5. Because the store was open and busy with a lot of orders and because she is a natural introvert, Jeanne stayed at PJP Buttonwood while I stayed at PJP King’s Daughters.  I had delightful help from Lindsey and Kayla, the girlfriends of our two male bakers, Mitch and Mac.  So basically, we have sucked them into the PJP vortex and while we sold pie, we drank some white wine and discussed the Kardashians.  These girls get me, I’m telling you.
  6. It is great that I had extra help at the booth because I had the opportunity to chat with tons of people I hadn’t seen in ages.  I took Latin from 8th grade through 12th grade from the same teacher and I saw her yesterday after many years and just like always, she is a TRUE DELIGHT.  I also saw the doctor that delivered both my babies.  And a lot of people who remembered Peg and stopped by to chat.  It was basically like an odd version of “This Is Your Life”, minus host Ralph Edwards.this_is_your_life__icon1_
  7. Because I am a control freak, I spent every minute that I wasn’t talking to customers or shopping for myself (ahem), calling Jeanne to check on PJP Buttonwood.  You know what isn’t reassuring?  Her answering her phone “OMG, so busy, can’t talk, gotta go” and hanging up on me.  And then not calling me back for three hours.
  8. People tend to think Jelly Jar pies are jelly.  Or jam.  Or candles.  Or potpourri.  Or if they accept they are pie, they think they must be unbaked pies.  Once they accept that they are fully baked pies in 4 ounce canning jars, they buy one or two or six and promptly pop open the lid and eat it in our booth while talking to us.
  9. We teamed up with Lizzie and Rocco’s to do a Puppy Pie.  We provided the dough and Jessica at Lizzie and Rocco’s made the turkey and sweet potato filling so that when you are picking up your pies, your dog can have a Thanksgiving treat as well.  We took 49 and sold 49, so clearly people don’t want their pets to feel left out on Thursday.  And Puppy Pies aside, I’m fairly certain that Jessica is my sister-from-another-mister.  If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a hundred times…making new friends is the most unanticipated and most fun parts of the PJP story.
  10. In total, we sold about 600 Jelly Jar pies, 50 baby pies, 49 puppy pies, 8 tea towels, and a partridge in a pear tree.

We will be back next year.  12 months should be ample time for my tired feet and legs to recover, right?

 

PJP Roadshow.

Our panic about the King’s Daughters festival this weekend arrived to PJP Buttonwood this morning and look, if Panic were a person, Panic would have arrived on a horse-drawn carriage and wearing a crown of diamonds and Xanax.  Throw in some trumpets, a 21-gun salute, and a red carpet and you get a glimpse into the overwhelming feeling Jeanne and I had for most of our day today.

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We’ve never taken the PJP show on the road.  We’ve discussed various opportunities to sell pies at our own booth and yet, we could never quite commit.  Finally, we decided to just rip the band-aid right off our fear and filled out a booth application for King’s Daughters.  We sent it in with our $350 check without letting ourselves talk ourselves out of it.  And then Jeanne spent weeks running around and telling anyone who would listen that we rented a booth for King’s Daughters and we didn’t have a plan for it.  She was saying it six weeks ago and she was saying it two days ago and she was saying it all the days in between…and she was right, as usual.

One of the many great things about Jeanne is that she can tell you she doesn’t know what she is doing or that she hasn’t a clue how to prep for something and then all of a sudden, 28 crates from JoAnn’s show up at PJP Buttonwood and Jeanne says “oh, yeah, I ordered all of these for our booth display!”  Um, ok.  I accept.

Beyond all the decorating, we had to make some very real decisions today about how much pie we should take.  According to one of the organizers of King’s Daughters, average attendance is between 3,000 to 5,000 over the course of the three-day event.  And so based on nothing scientific, we’ve decided to take 600 jelly jar pies, 200 baby pies, and around 50 nine-inch pies.  And maybe we will sell some of it and maybe we will sell of it…we really just have no idea what to expect.

Behind the decor and the pie selection, we also tried to work on staffing today.  Obviously, the booth needs to be full of Team PJP so that customers can have their questions answered and their payments processed.  And obviously, PJP Buttonwood needs Team PJP on Saturday while we are open from 9 until 1 AND Team PJP needs to keep baking for the storefront and the booth.

And quite honestly, all of this decision-making makes me want to lay in my bed with the covers over my head.  I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart does the same in times of indecision and stress, right?

Make plans to see us tomorrow from 6 pm until 9 pm, Saturday 8 am until 5 pm, and/or Sunday from 11 am until 4 pm.  Or stop by tomorrow or Saturday at PJP Buttonwood and pick up pies.  Either way, please plan to buy a Jelly Jar pie so I can feel justified in making 600 jars with tiny forks tomorrow…

 

Dear Sir/Madam…

Someone emailed me earlier today and asked me how I knew I was ready to start a business.  Because the email started with “Dear Sir/Madam”, I’m guessing the person didn’t seek me out based on any particular interest, but rather blind-copied a ton of email addresses and is now waiting to see if anyone will respond…

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I considered replying that if the person was really interested, they would have at least cut and pasted my name into their template instead of sending a generic query to an unspecified group, but I decided to give the benefit of doubt to the person just this once…because it is the holiday season, right?  Therefore…

Dear Anonymous:

I’m not sure what sort of business you are interested in or how you found my email address, but please don’t sell it for money or suggest that I send my answers in with a money order made out to a Nigerian prince that you plan to return to me as soon as you have entry into the United States.  I can only tell you what I know from my experiences and so these things may mean nothing…or everything…to you as you read on…

Start a business if…

  1. You are willing and able to consider your new business as your newest family member.  You’ll need to think about it constantly and give it everything it needs without resenting it.
  2. You can accept that you won’t know what you are doing a lot of the time.  Entrepreneurs who tell you they always know exactly what they are doing and they are super good at what they do are insane.
  3. You have to have a fairly good sense of your end game…if you are looking for retirement benefits and managed expectations, this isn’t for you.  If you don’t think about pensions but rather think about just working until you own a private plane with your face on the side of it, well then…
  4. You are prepared to be happy, satisfied, confused, exhausted, and/or clueless.  Or all of those things at the same time.
  5. You don’t need a rigid routine to be okay.  If you grocery shop at 10 am, fold laundry at 2 pm, answer emails from your bed, and stay up until the house is quiet to watch Netflix in peace and that makes you completely happy, this might work for you.
  6. You would rather work 16 hours in a row for little or no paycheck rather than attend a weekly leadership meeting wherein everyone shares their talking points about a topic that isn’t even particularly interesting.
  7. You aren’t a fan of 8 am start times, 5 pm stop times, one hour to eat lunch, or asking permission to eat a 30 minute lunch so you can leave 30 minutes early in the evening to pickup kids from daycare.  Sigh.
  8. You are completely okay with being the CEO and also the person that shop-vacuums the floor, takes out the trash, and writes all the checks.
  9. You can accept that some people will think you are making a mess of your life by leaving the comfort of a predictable routine and steady paycheck.
  10. You thrive on the unexpected, the unpredictable, and the unknown.

I have no idea if you will find any of the above thoughts to be pertinent to your plans.  If you think I’m completely wrong and have no clue what I’m talking about, you could be right.  Take it for what it is worth.

Sincerely,

Rebecca

PS…World Pie Domination

PPS…WPD

 

 

PJP Was Here…

Earlier this week, we were tipped off to an amazing sale at Hy-Vee…Land O’Lakes butter for $2.99 a pound and evaporated milk for .88 cents a can.  And believe it or not, those are much better prices than our food broker is able to offer this week.  Because those sale prices end today, first on our agenda this morning was to stop by and basically buy all the butter and all the evaporated milk.  We planned to shop even before we had our morning mochas from Caribou, so you know this was some serious business, INDEED.

This may not surprise you, but people look at you oddly when you load 100 cans of evaporated milk into your cart.  I have a whole new respect for those Extreme Couponers because finding the deals and loading the deals into your cart and keeping track of how much you have of a product in your cart while others look on is well, it is strange.  Once we secured the evaporated milk without incident for the hundreds of pumpkin pies headed our way in the next week, we headed straight for the butter.

Remember that butter is the very heart and soul of PJP.  And here is the thing about butter…the market price fluctuates wildly.  I have no idea if there is some sort of National Board of Butter or how the pricing is set, but it can only be by a complex formula that takes the number of sticks of butter sold in America in one day divided by the number of people who simply thought about butter times the number of people who think Country Crock might actually be butter.  I can’t think of any other explanation for the wild swings in butter pricing and so when Hy-Vee announced $2.99 for Land O’Lakes, we said, YES PLEASE.

Which is how we ended up with this picture…

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As you can see, we wiped the stock clean.  If you wonder about those Land O’Lakes boxes to the right in the picture, those are what Land O’Lakes calls “LIGHT BUTTER” and clearly, that product won’t be joining the PJP party.  And in case anyone was on the hunt for the $2.99 special on the Land O’Lakes butter, well, we felt we should leave a note to make everyone else who came along after us aware that we take responsibility for emptying the stock.

After checking out with about $300 in dairy items, Jeanne decided that simply pushing the cart back to PJP Buttonwood would be far superior to standing in the freezing cold and unloading the butter and milk into my car, driving to PJP, and then unloading the car and carrying it all into the store.  So she did what any sane(ish) person would do…she pushed the cart to PJP.  I drove along side her at a snail’s pace and with my window down, like we were training her for some sort of bizarre running event.

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While all this was going on, a woman drove by and looked at us like we had lost our minds…or stolen all of Hy-vee’s butter.  While I drove around to the front, Jeanne went to our back door and knocked.  Our two employees – Mac and Mitch – opened the door and didn’t even question us…they just rolled the cart right into PJP…

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We unloaded everything and returned the cart like it was just any normal PJP day.  And perhaps that is why I love PJP so very much…no one’s normal day starts with buying 50 pounds of butter and pushing it in a grocery cart through a massive parking lot on a cold fall morning.  Except ours.  Sounds legit.

Seven Months.

Today marks seven months of PJP Buttonwood.  SEVEN months.  210 days.  5,040 hours.  302,400 minutes.  Here is what we’ve learned…

  1. Being on the cover of a magazine is remarkably good for business.  It is remarkably bad for our humility.  We really can’t stop talking about it.  Annoying, Party of 2.
  2. I’ve read several stories during the past week about local businesses closing their doors after only a year in operation.  Each time I read one of those stories, a cold chill travels up my spine and I’m reminded that owning a business is a tenuous web held together with prayer and hard work.  And duct tape.
  3. All that said, I wouldn’t be above hiring a spider to write “SOME PIE” in its web, if that is what it took.
  4. The 217 days that will pass between our opening day and the day before Thanksgiving will do little to squelch our anxiety about our first official PJP Thanksgiving.  A trial run at having several hundred pies baked, boxed, and organized for pickup would have been helpful.  Just saying.
  5. I keep seeing an ad on television for startupny.com…apparently, if you open a business in the State of New York right now, your sales tax is waived for a certain period of time.  And well, I THINK THAT CONCEPT IS GENIUS.  I would guess that most people who give up on their business in the first year are just dehydrated from crying each time they write their monthly check for sales tax.
  6. Jeanne practically laid down on the floor of the baking aisle at Hy-vee last week in order to reach all the stock of .88 cent cans of evaporated milk.  She wasn’t embarrassed in the least and when she arrived back at PJP Buttonwood and told me she needed a dolly to get the cans from her car to the store, I wasn’t embarrassed.  I was, in fact, PROUD of her zeal.  Proud.
  7. During our construction process, our architect and mechanical engineer worried we would be too warm at PJP Buttonwood unless we installed a new air conditioning system that costs more than several years of college at MU.  We’ve been freezing during this recent cold snap and until you’ve seen 4 or 5 PJP employees huddled around an oven for warmth, you haven’t really witnessed pathetic.  All that said, I’m not turning the heat on because I’m guessing that is really expensive and who needs heat in a bakery?  If you come in and we are all wearing Snuggies, well, don’t laugh.
  8. We recently had our second health department inspection and received zero demerits.  During our first inspection this summer, we received one because we didn’t date the bags of fruit we receive from the food broker.  So now we date them, but this inspector said we didn’t need to date them.  I think our plan moving forward will be to date every other bag in attempt to make some of the people happy some of the time.
  9. The Kroenke Group hung up Christmas wreaths over the weekend.  And I would just like to let Silent Stan know that 1986 called and would like it’s lackluster and worn down decor back.  Perhaps Silent Stan could put a Hobby Lobby app on his phone and use the coupon to purchase something that didn’t look like it has been drug behind a van from storage to 3601 Buttonwood?FullSizeRender-9
  10. We know we say it a lot, but we believe it to be true more and more as each day passes…we simply have the best customers ever.  You believe in us and you believe in World Pie Domination.  Thank you.  Thank you times 210.

Thanksgiving Q&A

We are two weeks away from the Superbowl of the pie baking business…Thanksgiving.  And on our quest to World Pie Domination, our goal is to grace as many Thanksgiving dinner tables as possible.  Here is everything you’ve wanted to know about the Thanksgiving pie process but were afraid to ask…

  1. Should I plan to pre-order my Thanksgiving pies?  HECK, YES.  We already have almost 300 orders for the week of Thanksgiving and so if you decide to place an order, you will just be joining some really good pie-loving, PJP supporting company.  And in all honesty, we will work to over-bake for the store during that week, but we can make no guarantees on availability.  So if your family might never talk to you again if you don’t show up to dinner with a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie, we suggest you place an order.
  2. Fair enough…how do I order?  You can call us at 573-447-PIES (see what we did there?) or if you hate calling people on the phone as much as I do, we made an online order form.  You can find it at http://pjpies.com/order-thanksgiving-pies/.
  3. Do I have to pay at the time of ordering?  Nope.  In face, we prefer that you pay when you pick up your pies.  This is only because we will probably work ALL THE HOURS that week and we may feel slightly justified if we log our biggest week of sales at PJP yet.
  4. Can I use gift cards, VIP discount cards, and/or Doormail coupons to pay?  Well, Doormail expires tomorrow and so if you haven’t used it yet and you’ve been driving around with it in your car, then we will see you bright and early tomorrow.  Gift cards are completely fine.  VIP discount cards may be used if you didn’t receive the 10% pre-order discount…both won’t work together.
  5. How are you going to work ALL THE HOURS and not have a breakdown?  We never guaranteed we wouldn’t have a breakdown.  I’m putting the odds that one of us cries at VERY LIKELY.  I’m putting the odds that one of us yells at the other one at MOST CERTAINLY.
  6. What days will you be open during Thanksgiving week?  While normally closed on Mondays, we will be open on Monday, November 24th from 10:30 until 5:30.  On Tuesday, we will be open from 10:30 until 5:30.  On Wednesday, we will be open from 9 am to 6 pm.  We will be closed Thursday, obviously (and we won’t be shopping anywhere that decides to open because when did just skipping over Thanksgiving in a zeal to get Christmas deals become a thing?)  And here is what we decided to do for Friday…we will open from 9 until 1.  Saturday will be our regular hours from 9 until 1.
  7. How do I know what to order?  Well, how do we know what you like to eat?  All kidding aside, here is how it works:  on Monday and Tuesday, you may order any pie in any size (baby, 9 inch, and/or 12 inch).  On Wednesday, you may only order 9 inch pies and choose from a pre-determined list of 10 Thanksgiving favorites.  This is to help us streamline our production on the busiest of baking days.  The online ordering system will default you to those 10 choices.
  8. What if my plans change and I need to cancel or change my order?  Call us or email us at pies@pjpies.com at any time.  Because we will bake fresh each morning, we can accommodate last-minute requests (for the most part).  While Thanksgiving is some serious business, we are pretty zen about most things because above all, this is supposed to be fun, right?
  9. How much coffee do you and Jeanne plan to consume during those three pre-Thanksgiving days?  ALL THE COFFEE.  I think Bunnita makes 64 cups at a time.  We were thinking ahead on that decision.  And look, you didn’t ask about wine, but there will be wine as well.
  10. How many pies do you plan to make?  We have no clue.  Our plan, partly in jest, has been to stop orders at 2,000 pies.  Unless someone stops by tomorrow and orders 1,700 pies or so, I think we will be just fine.  Whatever the number ends up being, we are up for the challenge.  And I plan to stream Eye of the Tiger by Survivor for our low moments.

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