Monthly Archives: April 2014

What Would The Sugarbakers Do?

This my first post from the front counter of PJP Buttonwood.  I was actually just standing here and thinking about how I could never really envision the front counter in my mind during the construction process and now…well, now it feels like our stainless steel counter was always meant to be…

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In terms of completion, we feel like are about 88% satisfied with our behind-the-counter baking space (we 100% love the space…we just have finishing touches in mind).  We would like another work table for pie boxing, especially as we move forward in our pie shipping plans.  We also wouldn’t mind another cooling rack so that we could quickly and easily separate Lucky’s pies, special order pies, and pies planned for in-store sales.  We have eight more lights that are Jeanne-designed and electrician-wired that are now ready to be hung.  Finally, we would love a little table with several chairs so that we can sit and make our baking schedule.  It is desperate times when you want to walk over to the Sonic to order a Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade just so you can sit at their outdoor table while they make it for you.  And then hope service will be slow on that day because the sitting feels excellent and you don’t want it to end.

Our area between the front door and the front counter is really where we have struggled with our vision.  We know our goal is to merchandise and display the available pies in an inviting manner.  And for such a succinct goal, it is harder than we imagined.  We also have a lot of retail items, most from local artisans, and trying to figure out how to display those things has been challenging as well.

In order to make the front part of our shop look more like the vision we’ve been carrying around in our heads, we knew we needed help.  And if our sink clogged, we would call a plumber.  If our refrigerator stopped working, we would call a refrigerator repair person.  And so why not call in a professional for this problem?  Enter Caroline Leemis from Caroline Leemis Design (http://www.carolineleemisdesign.com).  Because my interior designer knowledge is based solely on my extensive viewing of Designing Women (until they forced off Suzanne Sugarbaker, but that is an entirely different blog post for another day), I really didn’t know what to expect when emailing Caroline.  Did she have a bossy older sister named Julia who knew a lot about drapes?  Did she have a delivery truck driver named Anthony that once ate a gas station sandwich and got food poisoning?

I still don’t know the answers to those questions (I’m guessing it is probably “NO”), but I can tell you that Caroline is pretty fabulous.  She took a look at our Pinterest page and then stopped by and talked to us and checked out our space.  She came back yesterday with a series of images to look at and let us tell her how we felt as we looked at each.  It was sorta like a Rorschach Test for people with a desire for all things industrial.  And chic.  And true to our relationship, Jeanne and I were pretty in sync with what we loved and what we didn’t.  (On one picture, we both actually gasped and Caroline is super smart – smart enough to know that YES, WE WANTED THAT ITEM ASAP).  And in a rare show of restraint, I didn’t make any random Sugarbaker references to Caroline during our conversation.

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We can’t wait to see what Caroline comes up with in the next few weeks to transform our front space into our space of our dreams.  We also have some fun new plans for signage and for pie display.  It would totally be Sugarbaker approved…

Pin Us…

In the manner of all things you may or may not find interesting, we got a Knox Box today.  A Knox Box is a simple box on the outside of a commercial building.  The fire department keeps keys to all the units of the building inside the box.  If they need easy access to your unit, they can get the key out of the box and unlock the door (as opposed to just smashing in the door).

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Surprisingly enough, the entire building space at 3601 Buttonwood didn’t have a Knox Box.  Upon inspection, the closest box is next to Buffalo Wild Wings…which doesn’t seem convenient at all if your building is burning down and the Columbia Fire Department is on a treasure hunt to find keys.

During our building code inspection, the Fire Marshal noted the absence of the Knox Box at 3601 Buttonwood and gave us 30 days to remedy the situation.  I almost pointed out that somehow a 24 HOUR LAUNDROMAT at the end of our building had escaped without a Knox Box requirement and perhaps if the fire department is going to question someone, they should start with the wisdom of letting unattended people do laundry at 4 am in lint-filled dryers before questioning my single oven as a fire hazard…but then I thought better of that and kept my opinion to myself.  Silent Stan, as building owner, took responsibility for installing the box.  When I was baking at PJP Buttonwood today, someone showed up with some tools and the box.  I can tell you nothing about it except that the person installing it asked if they could “steal” off our electricity and I said yes because what else can you say to that sort of question?

In unrelated, but more interesting, news…PJP V 2.0 is officially on Pinterest.  And yeah, yeah…for those 2.78 of you that don’t have a clinically diagnosed Pinterest addiction, I know you don’t get it.  Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason will often ask me if I’m sure I haven’t already pinned all the things on the Internet.  And therein lies the beauty of Pinterest…there is always more to look at.  More recipes, more cocktails, more travel, more baby animals, more quotes, more cute outfits, more and more and more of everything.

We have started working with a local interior designer to help our front retail area reflect more of our vibe and personality (more about that tomorrow).  One of the things she asked for was a link to our Pinterest page because, without question, analyzing someone’s Pinterest boards is an excellent way to learn more about them.  And so why I’ve had a PJP board on my personal Pinterest account, I was a little surprised it hadn’t occurred to me to create a PJP Pinterest account.  (Though, maybe that is why we can’t get the front section to look like the vision we see in our heads…because we aren’t really sure of what that vision is.)

Whatever the case, PJP is Pinterest certified now (under “Peggy Jean’s Pies”).  And that I am justified in pinning in the name of business development, well, YES PLEASE.  And because I’m an overachiever, I pinned 74 things in under an hour so you would have something to look at if you started to follow the PJP page.  YOU.  ARE.  WELCOME.

And from our “Entertain Me…” board…

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Fold. Then Tab.

PJP Buttonwood has officially existed for one week.  While that might not sound noteworthy, I take my milestones where I can find them.  For the months it took to finally open our space, each day in our space is celebration worthy.  Even if that day starts at 4 am.  (On a side note, never start your day with this beverage unless you are interested in contemplating whether you need an EKG or are okay with your tongue being inexplicably numb for two hours after finishing it):

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Because my physical exhaustion has left me a bit emotionally unhinged and a little weepy and overly effusive, we are compelled to say “thank you” to everyone who in some way impacted this first week of business for us.  Whether you stopped by the shop, interacted with us on Facebook or Twitter, read the blog, passed on news of our opening to someone, or simply thought “I hope those girls are doing well over there on Buttonwood”…

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So for those of you not into details, I’ll just say WE SOLD A LOT OF PIE.  For those of you into details, here is the breakdown by type and flavor:

Top Flavors Sold:

  • Chocolate Bourbon Pecan
  • French Silk
  • Cherry
  • Coconut Cream
  • Southern Pecan

Top Types Sold:

  • Baby German Chocolate
  • Baby French Silk
  • 9 inch Chocolate Bourbon Pecan
  • Baby Coconut Cream
  • Baby Chocolate Bourbon Pecan

While I’m not generally one for analytics, I was surprised and interested in the data about the baby pies.  For you long-time PJP fans, you’ll remember that the baby pie was created by Jeanne at PJP v. 1.0.  When we started thinking about and planning for 2.0, she held fast to the notion that she wouldn’t entertain the idea of baby pies.  They are labor intensive little suckers, for sure.  If you aren’t familiar, I would like to introduce you Baby French Silk.

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That said, they are also ridiculously cute.  And ridiculously popular.  Having your own five inches of pie is a compelling thing…just enough to be satiated, but not too much (thus avoiding binging…or sharing).  Baby pies are also a great little “hey, I was thinking about you in a noncommittal $7 sort of way” gift.  Or if you are super skinny and into fitness, I guess you could share it with some sort of other super skinny fitness person.  Or you could pace yourself and eat half of your baby pie today and keep the rest for tomorrow.  I’m not familiar with either concept, so let me know if that works well.

Whatever the reason for the popularity, we are immensely thankful.  Because we sold so many this week, we actually ran out of baby boxes.  Finding the right box for our sweet babies has been an ordeal.  The first batch we ordered showed up on the doorstep 100% unassembled.  Because I don’t support things that require multiple steps and “Insert Tab A into Tab B and then fold over to Tab C” sort of activities, I returned to the Internet and was relentless until I discovered a six inch window pie box that didn’t require a minor in architecture to put together. And when those arrived, we all oohh and awwwwed at the cute factor (and the whole “not putting it together” thing).  They were pretty fabulous.  And lasted about 6 PJP Buttonwood days.

So I basically spent the better part of the afternoon cursing those original unassembled boxes wile fending off paper cuts and anxiety.  If you stop by tomorrow, please don’t judge us on the sketchy boxes or my inability to figure out how to fold one in under a minute.  It is a good thing we close at 1.  I plan to sit on my front doorstep for the remainder of the afternoon and look for the UPS person to bring me some awe-worthy boxes.