WOLFVILLE, N.S. - The owners of Slow Dough Pastries & Café are changing things up a bit in light of circumstances that call for the closure of the retail shop on Main Street.
Slow Dough, operated by husband and wife duo Warren Young and pastry chef Elizabeth Charlton, is transitioning away from the bricks and mortar storefront model as of day’s end May 24.
“Both my wife and I have had an unfortunate series of health problems with our knees. Both of us require double knee replacements. I’ve had one done, and it was done unsuccessfully. My wife had one done and is about to have her other one this Friday,” said Young in an interview May 22.
“When those things happen to you, it flattens you. I can’t afford to replace Elizabeth or myself with paid employees and really make a go of it.”
The reality, Young said, is that knee replacements and a broken ankle that took him out of commission for five weeks a week before Christmas served as reminders of the risks associated with maintaining the status quo.
“When you’re a self-employed business person you don’t have any of the benefits that other people do. You don’t have paid sick leave. You don’t have disability,” he said.
“There’s no safety umbrella for small business owners. If your health goes south, you really don’t have a lot of options if you run on small margins.”
Closing the café on Main Street reduces operating costs and allows for more flexibility in how they do business.
“It’s a very competitive atmosphere in Wolfville for food but the rewards are great when they happen, too,” said Young.
“No regrets. It’s a sign of the times.”
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The couple will be selling Slow Dough products – both sweet and savoury – at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market Wednesday evenings, and continuing with catering and wholesale orders. They are making arrangements to have a CSA-style, drop-off location at Wool ‘n Tart twice weekly that will give customers the opportunity to place orders and pick the products up at a designated location downtown.
“We’re optimistic that we can modify this into something that works for both us and our customers,” said Young, who noted that the CSA model offers more efficiency.
The move to the market model marks a return to its roots for the Slow Dough business, which first had baked goods at the farmers’ market in 2008.
Young is also excited to be a part of the WFM2Go (Wolfville Farmers’ Market to go) online store and weekly delivery service.
“Wolfville Farmers’ Market has innovated over the past year and created a food distribution network. We take the market to the people,” he said.
The food is delivered to seven community hubs: Wolfville, Canning, Berwick, Tantallon, Windsor, Bedford and Dartmouth.
“Every Wednesday we send a refrigerated truck to all seven of those locations loaded with our products. People are ordering Wolfville Farmers’ Market products from as far away as Halifax to Berwick,” said Young.
“It’s generating a lot of interest.”
The demand for innovation in a technological age that increasingly presents consumers with opportunities to now order groceries online is undeniable. Change, Young stressed, is inevitable.
Looking back, Young said running a café in the heart of Wolfville’s diverse downtown core was a great way to meet new people in the East Coast town they chose to call home after leaving Ontario to raise their kids in the Annapolis Valley 12 years ago.
“The idea of this place was to be a very artisanal boutique bakery where you can always get something fresh,” he said.
“Having a retail space on Main has been a source of pride and satisfaction. If you are proud of the products you make and the service you deliver, a solid customer base is very rewarding.”