Written By: Mallory Bader and Andy Greenman
Businesses make adjustments to brighten up the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s no secret these are trying times for small businesses like Sweet Secrets Bakery. With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing people to stay home, business owners have had to quickly pivot in hopes of weathering this crisis.
Co-owner Taylor Whittle knew she would have to shift her business model when the city council voted to temporarily close sit down dining areas due to the coronavirus. But what she did not anticipate was how the Rapid City community would rally to support their local businesses with these unexpected changes.
Sweet Secrets Bakery typically has an open kitchen area where people can browse the pastry selections and ample seating for them to enjoy their treats. Since this was no longer an option, Whittle looked to her mom to brainstorm new and innovative ideas to help keep the business thriving. “My mom is my inspiration for my creativity,” Whittle says. They decided to begin creating “to-go kits” as a new offering for families who have more time at home during the pandemic. These kits consist of six unfrosted cupcakes or cookies, a bag of icing, and sprinkles which people can decorate together at home. Other new offerings included selling frozen dough for families to bake at home as desired, as well as offering delivery through a partnership with Food Dudes and no contact curbside pickup at the store. She even created special “support local” themed cookies with inspirational sayings such as “Stay Strong South Dakota.” These new offerings are all on top of continuing to make their special orders and most popular items like the lemon almond ricotta cake and the French macarons.
This agility in the face of a crisis has allowed her business to continue to thrive despite the uncertainty in life right now. One tool that has allowed her to promote her business has been the Rapid City To Go Facebook group, which was created by Elevate Rapid City to share and promote local businesses. “It’s been incredibly cool,” Whittle says. “I got invited by a few of my local business buddies and I’ve never gotten so many likes on a social media post before. It has really helped share information, with other local businesses and the people in Rapid.” Through her posts on the page, she has gained more followers on her own business page and has many new customers messaging her for questions about special orders.
Sweet Secrets is just hoping to continue to bake delicious treats and wait to see what happens through this pandemic. They have applied for a grant to keep employees at a full 40 hour week, but are continuing to come up with new and innovative ways to serve their customers. Whittle says that being a small business owner in Rapid City is difficult but the challenge is what she loves. “I’ve met so many cool people here, other local business owners. It’s amazing.”