Thorsby bakery hopes for ‘sweet’ success
By Adam Powell | Special to the Advertiser
One Thorsby residence has taken advantage of Alabama’s “Cottage Food Law,” which allows for the sale of certain food products deemed “non-hazardous” from a person’s home, to open up a bakery.
Madison Avenue Bakery is the brainchild of Sheryl Gibson and her business partner Virginia Smitherman.
Gibson is an Italian import to Alabama, while Smitherman is an Alabama native currently living in Verbena, so the bakery will offer Italian desserts alongside a variety of more common sweet delicacies such as cupcakes, homemade desserts and cakes.
“After moving to Thorsby a year ago, my friends and family actually encouraged me to open a bakery here,” Gibson said. “I am not from Thorsby, or Alabama for that matter, so I will be bringing a new flair to this area.”
Gibson and Smitherman began the process of opening the shop in March and have slowly began to make a “household name” for their business.
And, Gibson said, business has been good so far.
Gibson got her start in the competitive Orlando market, where she spent five years perfecting buttercream and fondant to keep up with the competition.
“I’m a little rusty on the fondant decorating, but the taste hasn’t changed,” Gibson said. “It’s like riding a bike. Once you get back on it just gets easier.”
Gibson noted that, despite advice to the contrary, her business has donated monthly to a different cause, including the Chilton County Humane Society, Autism Awareness and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Per the state law, Gibson can only sell her baked goods directly to consumers, most of which are pre-ordered via telephone or Internet.
Gibson is currently in the process of remodeling her home, so pick-up options will be delayed until work is completed at the house.
Along with the business’s desserts, conducive to a plethora of functions, they will also offer party novelties such as balloons, characters and more.
“What sets Madison Avenue Bakery apart from other bakeries in the area is the products we serve, as well as our services,” Gibson said. “Not only do we sell wedding cakes, but we can also do favors, as well as décor, if the Bride and Groom choose. The same can be said of birthday parties, as we also do favors, characters-for-rent and decorations.”
Further, the duo will offer single-serve items at public events throughout the county, which they regularly update the public on via the bakery’s Facebook page.
The bakery is located at 659 Iowa Avenue and will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m, with delivery services offered.
Gibson noted that Smitherman’s home in Verbena will allow the company to easily deliver to customers throughout Chilton County.
There will be no charge for delivery within a 15-mile radius in Thorsby, though a $10 delivery charge will be tacked on for every additional 15 miles.
“Our pricing philosophy is and will always be (to) control cost,” Gibson said. “So we can offer reasonable prices to keep customers coming back.”
The Cottage Law, under which Madison Avenue Bakery will be operating, allows the business to keep costs low by eliminating the cost of a commercial kitchen and the need to sell its products through a retail outlet or farmer’s market.
But the law also constrains the upstart bakery, which already has stores willing to sell its wares.
“The business plan is to package baked goods for local, family-owned businesses, as well as serve the community,” Gibson said. “I have a ton of stores that are ready to begin selling our products but cannot due to the law.”
But the duo is not planning to be stifled by such legislation, as both women plan to take the ServSafe class and have their home business inspected by the health department.
And although the law carries stipulations, Gibson is a proponent of the legislation.
“We support all local businesses and encourage more people to work under the Cottage Law, as it is a wonderful way for our community to see the raw talent that comes from the people who live here” Gibson said. “In most cases, opening a business is super hard, but because of the law everyone gets a chance.”
For more information on Madison Avenue Bakery, or to place an order, contact Gibson at 217-0783 or connect with the business at Facebook.com/MadisonAvenueBakeryLLC.