Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Apple picking

Find new product niches, and new customers online.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

Foot traffic is the lifeblood of business for Mary Ardapple, owner of Apple's Bakery in Peoria, Ill. As the local economy began slowing in recent months and four big retailers closed nearby, she noticed that her walk-in trade was dwindling. Even regulars she had once seen five days a week were cutting back their spending and stopping in less frequently.

Looking to expand her customer base, she spent seven months studying natural foods and talking to her customers about their needs. As a result of that research, she invested $30,000 to develop gluten-free cookies. The product line, introduced in October, has been a hit: The nine new cookies accounted for 2% of the bakery's fourth-quarter sales, and Ardapple plans to release a line of gluten-free bread and muffins.

She also revamped her website, touting her breakfast catering and daily lunch menu, and letting customers order baked goods online. Web sales in 2007 were up 110% from 2006. These new sales have helped Ardapple manage rising costs, especially for flour. The price of a 50-pound bag jumped from $10.70 in June to $17 in February. Overall, sales remained flat at $850,000 from 2006 to 2007, but she expects them to top $1 million in 2008.

"I'm more optimistic today than I was five years ago," says Ardapple. "And it's because the tests and trials of a troubled economy encourage me to seek greater opportunities than I did the year before." - By Brandi Stewart

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
Toy Fair surfaces holograms, robotic animals, dolls for boys The Toy Industry Association's annual fair revealed countless tech-enabled toys -- and some fresh takes on old classics. More
Super Bowl bound? Things to do in Houston besides the big game If you're one of the thousands of fans are headed to Houston for the Super Bowl Sunday, here are five things to do when you're not at the stadium. More
Sneak peek at Super Bowl 51 ads The ghost of Spuds MacKenzie and an ad about immigration steal the show in the swell of upcoming Super Bowl ads. Advertisers are paying, on average, $5 million for 30-second spots during Sunday's game on Fox. But if you want to watch something other than commercials, the New England Patriots happen to be playing the Atlanta Falcons. More

Sponsors