More often than not, retail bakers will freely share information with one another with the purpose of keeping the industry, as a whole, strong and profitable. Competition among peers exists in retail baking, but everyone knows it’s in the best interest of all the shops to work together, and it benefits everyone if all the businesses do well.
Many retail shops network with friends, colleagues and contacts that have been met along the way, but there are also organizations that facilitate the sharing of information. Another way bakeries can help each other out is to join a purchasing group that allows bakers to purchase ingredients together, in one large order. This provides the opportunity for price breaks. Services and education are provided as well.
RBA national and regional
The Retail Baker’s Association (RBA) gives retail bakeries across the country access to a number of different resources from the latest news and legislation to education and special events. But perhaps the most important thing it offers is networking with other retail bakeries. Talking to other bakeries, and especially those in your region, gives insight into the business that can’t be found anywhere else. Regional branches of the RBA allow a more specific type of service:
- CARBA – Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association
- GSWRBA – Greater Southwest Retail Bakers Association
- SRBA – Southeastern Retail Bakers Association
- WBA – Wisconsin Bakers Association (closely affiliated with RBA) wibakers.com
Valley Bakers Cooperative
One example of an association that benefits bakers when purchasing ingredients is Valley Bakers Cooperative Association (VBCA). VBCA operates as a wholesale distributor in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Dealing in more than just ingredients and providing better prices and the perks that come with them, VCBA provides contacts to services that bakers need to run their businesses.
Access to financial and business services along with discounts, annual rewards and premium privileges, give bakers time to perfect products instead of worrying about other things. “That's simplified my life, and that lets me concentrate on being a baker," says Karen Cox, owner and manager, Colonial Bakery, Madison, WI. “They let me focus on what I do best.”
Make contacts, network with other bakeries and utilize all the available resources you can find. This will ensure the best chance possible for your bakery to remain profitable and retain high-quality goods and services for many years to come.