In America, there is a special day for donuts and devil’s food cake, pie and paczki, cookies and cream puffs. In fact, there is a special proclamation (official or unofficial) for just about every bakery product on any given day of the year. But until now, there has never been a National Bakery Day, celebrating the independent retail bakery and its vital role to the lifeblood of local communities across the country.
This all changes on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 — the first-ever official National Bakery Day in the United States. And this is sure to become an annual event.
“Very excited, long overdue!  I was wondering why there wasn’t already one,” says Paul Sapienza of Sapienza Bakery and director of finance for the Retail Bakers of America (RBA), which is spearheading the event. 
Beth Fahey, RBA president and co-owner of Creative Cakes in Tinley Park, Illinois, says National Bakery Day is exactly what the retail bakery industry needs. And the timing could not be better. “What a great way to celebrate local bakeries!”

You can start planning ahead for the excitement that is sure to be generated (and increased sales) by National Bakery Day.

Right away, start spreading the word to your customers via social media platforms. Begin planning your own special promotions for this unique event and how you can connect to your community. One great idea is to create a limited-edition product (cookie, donut, cake) just for National Bakery Day.

Order your free National Bakery Day in-store promo kit while supplies last.
Order your free National Bakery Day in-store promo kit while supplies last. The kit contains a box label, window decals, posters, table tents and counter stands. The professionally designed artwork features clever slogans such as "Keep Your Dough Local."

To order a free kit, contact the Retail Bakers of America or email to see if you qualify. You can also sign up to be an RBA member.

John Lupo, a Certified Master Baker and owner of Grandma’s Bakery in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, understands the importance of retail bakeries to their communities. He first opened in 1978 in White Bear Lake, a remote suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul, where he has managed a bakery business that since has grown to two retail locations with a thriving wholesale operation and more than 100 employees.  
Retail bakeries, he says, “play such an important part of the fabric of their community.”

John Lupo of Grandma's Bakery showcases a fun whimsical cake as an example of what local bakeries can create for National Bakery Day.
Lupo plans to conduct a variety of promotional activities around the event. All of these ideas are great ones to borrow and conduct at your own bakery:

  • Offer a deal for customers to purchase a loaf of bread and, in return, donate a fresh loaf to the food shelf.
  • Decorate the store inside and out. Create a large fun whimsical cake as a centerpiece when customers walk in the door, with lots of samples and balloons for the kids.
  • Ask your local mayor, governor and state representatives for proclamations on that day.
  • Conduct an old fashioned cake walk inside the store.
  • Promote and conduct cake demonstrations, baker demonstrations and behind-the-scenes bakery tours.
  • Offer grand prize drawing for donuts for a year to the winner.

RBA vice president Danny Turner of Pushkin’s Bakery in Sacramento, California, says National Bakery Day will be a unique opportunity to put the spotlight on your own bakery.

“Bakeries celebrate every holiday as it is,” he says, “it’s about time we have a day that celebrates bakeries!”

Grandma's Bakery is already busy with promoting National Bakery Day.

RBA board members have many thoughts to share about the excitement that can be generated from such a unique campaign on a national scale.

“National Bakery Day is an opportunity to call attention to locally owned bakeries,” says Patti Stobaugh of PattiCakes Bakery in Conway, Arkansas.
Anne Heap of Pink Cake Box in Denville, New Jersey, says they “support National Bakery Day because it’s a great (and tasty) way to encourage small business and the art of baking.”
“Celebrating those who help us celebrate,” is how Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery & Studio in Dallas describes it.
Scott Calvert of The Cake Plate in Austin, Texas, says they are “thrilled about the exciting opportunities,” and Brian Pansari of La Bonbonniere in Edison, New Jersey, says, ““I’m excited to celebrate National Bakery Day with my customers to thank them for their support throughout the year!”

Having National Bakery Day in late September offers local retail bakeries a prime opportunity to attract new and current customers to the bakery in advance of the biggest holiday season of the year: October, November and December.

“If you can get them to come into your bakery once in September, it will pay off big dividends for the holidays,” Lupo says.

Lessons from Record Store Day

Lupo says the idea for a National Bakery Day resulted, in part, from the enormous success of Record Store Day, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary in April.
Record Store Day is an annual day to celebrate local independent record stores—and music in general. It’s also a day when die hard music fans flock to actual physical shops to scoop up exclusive and limited-edition releases that artists customize—often elaborately—for this special day, according to Nielsen research.
The first Record Store Day in 2008 came at a time when digital sales were quickly expanding and physical retailers, particularly beleaguered independent retailers, were in decline. Yet while local shops accounted for just under 7 percent of physical music sales in the US, according to Nielsen, they contributed a much higher share of vinyl LP sales—an opportunity from which the seeds of an annual “Record Store Day” were sown.
Last year, when streaming music hit an all-time high, Record Store Day enjoyed its biggest year yet, with a record-setting 383,000 vinyl LPs sold during that week, Nielsen reported, an increase of 321 percent on the prior week.
In looking at the past five years alone, vinyl sales have climbed more than 320 percent, largely from an older, more affluent music fan base. Thanks in large part to Record Store Day's spotlight, vinyl now accounts for more than 11 percent of total physical sales—well above the minuscule 0.2 percent just 10 years ago.

Retail bakery’s future

The number of retail bakeries in the U.S. grew by 2.1 percent to 6,526 establishments in 2015, following a 3.3 percent increase in the previous year. Prior to 2014, the lingering effects of the economic recession led to a 6.2% drop in the number of retail bakeries in 2013.  This was preceded by two years of significant industry expansion in 2012 and 2011.

As the economy strengthens over the next few years, both retail bakeries and coffee shops will experience strong sales growth.  In 2015, coffee shop sales in the US jumped by 9.2 percent to $17.9 billion, while retail bakery sales grew by 7.6 percent to $4.87 billion.

In 2015, U.S. coffee shop sales rose by 9.2 percent to $17.9 billion, according to industry data, while retail bakery grew by 7.6 percent to $4.87 billion.

Special promotions like National Bakery Day can do wonders for increasing the exposure and revenue for retail bakeries. Just look at the recent example set by the Donut Trail in Butler County, Ohio.

According to a new study by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, retail bakery owners in Butler County experienced sales increases ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent, after the Butler County Visitors Bureau implemented a special year-round promotion called the Donut Trail. Visitors to Butler County are invited to pick up a passport and have it stamped at the 10 donut shops along the trail. According to the visitors bureau, more than 4,700 people from 38 states turned in their passports, further evidence of how people love local bakeries.

"The Butler County Donut Trail has brought national attention and recognition to Butler County in year one," says Mark Hecquet, executive director of the visitors bureau. "We're excited to enhance the donut trail and welcome visitors back in year two with a brand new T-shirt design."

The economic report showed the Donut Trail had a significant $1 million impact on the county in 2016. Sherry Richardson, owner of Mimi's Donuts & Bakery in Hamilton, Ohio, said her shop enjoyed a 30 percent increase in annual sales. "It put me on the map," she says, "and I see it continuing."

So, imagine what National Bakery Day can do for your sales. That's why it is so important to join in.