As the COVID-19 outbreak forces local businesses to adopt new practices, Lillipies relies on the sale of bakery items and gift cards to stay afloat.
Lillipies bakery is usually bustling with people who want to sit and drink their morning coffee with a pastry before a long workday. Since Jen Carson opened the bakery four years ago, friends of the bakery and employees have engaged in conversation across the counter, and customers have gathered for open-mics and cooking classes.
But now more than a month into the COVID-19 outbreak, everything has changed.
“We’ve had to change our front of house policies about four times now,” Carson said in an interview. First, they switched to only take-out and added the new option of delivery. As restrictions increased, they transitioned to pickups on their outside table and car pickups. Customers call in their order from outside the store, looking through the window at the bakery options, and Carson comes out to drop their orders off on the table.
The bakery’s menu has gone through significant change as well. The bakery has stopped serving breakfast and has switched to only bakery options as well as “you-bakes,” or pre-baking sets. You-bakes have especially grown popular as Princeton residents explore baking in isolation. Carson said she is getting emails from people who are using the new Lillipies cookbook, which came out on March 2nd, and sending pictures baking with their children and having a good time. “That’s really rewarding to see, you know, that’s what the book was meant for,” Carson said, “And now people actually have the time to do such things. So that’s a positive spin on what’s going on right now. That makes me happy.”
The bakery is Carson’s first business venture and she never imagined she would be facing a situation like this. “It’s just constant problem solving,” Carson said, “How are things going to change tomorrow? How are we going to have to change our whole routine and menu tomorrow? So it’s a challenge figuring out how our business can fit into this new reality.”
Even with the multiple changes in strategy, sales at the bakery are down by 40%. Carson said that only twelve of the twenty employees have chosen to keep working under the circumstances. “We keep saying, as long as we keep breaking even, we’re going to stay open,” she said. “The good part of all of this is that you see customers calling in and they ask ‘what can we do to help you or to help other businesses?’ And we’re as honest as we can. Buy our gift cards, buy gift cards to your favorite restaurants in town because they’re going to need you as well. So, you know, spread the love around and hope they will all come back better than ever.”
While adapting to the changes has been a challenge, Carson remains optimistic and says she is committed to taking care of her employees and customers. “I think it’s a new world right now, and we’re gonna have to stay creative and stay flexible,” she said.
For more information, visit http://www.lillipies.com/, or call 609-423-2100 to place an order.