To say the very least, the retail display of our pies at PJP Buttonwood has been a challenge. While we can create pies, bake pies, discuss pies, and plan for pie world domination…it appears that the simple act of displaying our product in the most compelling way to potential customers is a little more difficult than either of us anticipated.
If you recall PJP on Broadway and PJP Chapel Hill, you’ll remember traditional bakery display cases…
When we started to consider PJP Buttonwood, nothing about that display concept felt right to us. We researched all sorts of different display cases on the Internet and browsed restaurant supply companies, but each result left us feeling less than inspired. And to further complicate the situation, display cases are insanely expensive. In fact, the unit pictured above is currently for sale for $10,588.52. And for $10,588.52, that case should be able to bake the pies and clean up the mess after it is finished.
Finally, as the opening day of PJP Buttonwood neared, we settled on a fairly unique refrigeration case…primarily because we needed something and it was the least offensive of our choices. On equipment delivery day, the unit wouldn’t fit through the front door. It was too wide at the base by just a few inches and because none of the delivery people thought my claims of “JUST SHOVE IT THROUGH THE DOORWAY AND IT WILL BE FINE” was a good way to proceed, the case went back on the truck and was returned to the store. And because we are fairly good at recognizing a sign from the universe, PJP Buttonwood opened with a rather sad three tier display unit purchased from a defunct retail store for our ambient temperature pies and no cold display at all. And after what it took to get PJP Buttonwood ready to finally open, a delay over display cases was not a delay I was interested in, thank you very much for asking.
So we are rolling into five weeks into our space and it has become apparent that our retail display skills are lackluster. It is a problem that Caroline Leemis from Caroline Leemis Design has been actively attacking for the past few weeks. I can’t even begin to tell you what sort of transformation is planned for our front retail space, but please trust me when I say WE ARE IN LOVE WITH THE PLANS.
Last week, Caroline stopped by and we were all chatting and the idea of an antique refrigerator surfaced in our conversation. We’ve been working on this theme of “pie is home” and so what if we could find just the right refrigerator for our cold pies and place it in the front of PJP Buttonwood and encourage our customers to open the refrigerator and browse the selection, just as you would at home?
Later that afternoon, Caroline emailed me a Craigslist posting for the Kansas City area for an antique refrigerator for $400. I emailed about the availability and in the span of a few emails and text messages, we became the owners of a prime condition, fully functioning antique refrigerator. And for an extra $100, the owner even offered to drive it from Kansas City to Columbia, with scheduled delivery for today.
(As to be expected with Craigslist, we both had a little doubt this morning about this whole transaction. Would the guy even show up? And if he did, would the refrigerator be as advertised? And if so, would he just deliver it or use it as a guise and then actually be a killer?)
Turns out, refrigerator owner Chad was a delightful person who spent most of his drive to Columbia questioning if we were crazy people plotting to kill guys who deliver antique refrigerators. Once all the awkward once-overs were complete and there was palatable relief that we were all real and normal people, it was time to welcome our new addition to PJP Buttonwood.
Once in place, Chad plugged it in and it powered to life…
Chad wasn’t sure of the manufacture year of the refrigerator. Some Google image searches seem to point to around 1950. It works beautifully and the interior condition is nothing short of perfect.
This refrigerator has brought her own charm to PJP Buttonwood in a way that we hadn’t anticipated. We filled it quickly with all our fresh cream pies and then squealed with delight whenever a customer came in and intuitively opened the refrigerator door to see if there was anything good worth having.
We couldn’t be more happy with our budget friendly cold storage that feels like it has always been at home with us. We love watching everyone open the door and peruse the options, just like they would at home. Because pie is home. And eventually everyone comes home.