Running A Successful Bakery
So you want to compete against the likes of the Breadmaster and that wonderful kiko who runs the Chocolate Factory, eh?
I'm here to help!
Entering the wonderful world of baking and candy making may seem intimidating at first, with all those recipes and precise measurements, but with some guidance, practice, and a pinch of love, your cakes will dazzle Neopians far and wide!
It's going to be very hard work, bakers wake up before the sun rises and when you own your own store you'll be pulling some late nights. You'll have maple syrup stuck to your fingers constantly and find rainbow sprinkles in your hair every time you shower. You'll burn your tongue eating freshly baked danishes every morning, but it's one of the most rewarding careers I can think of. Sweets put a smile on faces across the world, and you'll be creating the centerpiece for celebrations of birthdays and graduations and everything in between. Families will gather around your creation and smile and exchange words of love and care.
Cake brings people together, and now you can bring cake to the people.
The first step is choosing a location! Oh, you thought you'd already be in the kitchen whipping up buttercream and snacking on chocolate chips? Nope! This is a business!! It takes a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it.
Now, let's look at your options to open up shop.
We have Neopia Central, a main location where you can serve all kinds of sweets. The downside is that it is very crowded and you will face a lot of competition. Very large shops congregate in this area, and you'll do better here by joining a mall.
Up next is Mystery Island, a personal favorite because you'll have access to a never ending supply of exotic fruits! Entice the tourists with your coconut custard pies and Chokato frosted cupcakes, Zeenana pudding and Gadsgadsbogen fruit tarts. Expand your menu with fresh fruit smoothies to help customers cool off in the island heat.
Finally, for the more erm...creative cooks, the Haunted Woods. Here you'll do best with unique ingredients, like grubs freshly foraged from dirt and wedding cakes topped with eyeballs, or perhaps a pus filled Boston cream doughnut. This location is definitely for the more eclectic among us.
Okay, so you've chosen a location and focused in on the types of food you might want to sell, but let's look a little deeper at how to choose your exact product.
The major key is variety. If you only sell Choco-mint Aisha Cake, you won't get many customers. You'll want to sell many different types of sweets to cater to many pallets, whether they like Chokato with orange or they want a more savory lunch item like a Cauliflower Pasty. Make sure you also include a treat for every Neopets, you can't just sell Chia Pops and expect the owner of a beautiful Quiggle to shop there often. Make sure you stock up on Lupe Biscuits and Chocolate Aisha Ears to appeal to a large customer base.
Keep up to current events as well! Is Usukicon coming up? Make sure to stock some Usuki Haircake! Almost Lenny Day? Bake up some Lenny Meringue Pie and your customers will go wild. Valentines Cookies will fly off the shelves in February, always stay ahead of the holidays and stock extra.
Presentation is very important too, you wouldn't buy a Brioche with a bite taken out, or a burnt Chomby Biscuit, would you? No way! When you're decorating your cakes, make sure the borders are perfectly piped and when writing "Happy Birthday" you don't misspell the customer's name (that's an embarrassing mistake we've all made once or twice...or three or four times, woops).
Focus heavily on cute items (unless you're in the Haunted Woods, the grosser the better). A tourist visiting Mystery Island probably won't want to eat a Dung Cookie and would prefer to cool off with a fresh fruit Jam Pastry. I'm not even sure if the Neopian Health Department would let your bakery stay open if you had Dung in the display case...if they threaten to shut you down, try bribing them with a Lemon Curd Croissant.
While variety is super important, so is knowing what you're good at. Your shop can sell all cakes, but choose a VARIETY of cakes and cupcakes. If you want to specialize in Tonu sweets, include cakes and cookies, but also more earthy and grassy sweets that a Tonu might naturally graze on.
Lastly, when choosing your menu, include an option for those with allergies or intolerance. Bake up a vegan Coral Cake or Vegetarian Meat Pie, make a little Gluten-Free Snack Basket, or frost up my favorite naturally sweetened Sugar-Free Tooth Faerie Cake. It's important all neopets feel at home when they visit your shop, regardless of dietary choice!
Now you've got your shop, you've got a long list of recipes and you've consulted with the Shop Wizard to get the best prices on your ingredients, time for a nap! Oh..? What? No...there's work to be done!! You're an entrepreneur now, you don't get to nap. Maybe if you hire some staff you'll be lucky to at least sleep at night. Let's look at shopkeepers!
The Gothic Usul seems to be a popular employee, sometimes I feel like she works at every shop I visit. Apparently you can get an avatar from her, but she may scare away your customers unless you set up in the Haunted Woods. If you want to stick by your brand, I'd suggest the Chocolate Kacheek or the Kitchen Quest Chef, they both seem to have the necessary experience to lighten your workload.
Now that you have staff to run your shop, it's time to open the front door! Congratulations!!! Aside from creating incredibly delicious baked goods and candies, you'll also want to advertise on the Neoboards or Notice Board to get the word out and secure returning customers. If you notice someone buying often from your shop, it never hurts to send a free cake slice to a loyal customer as a thank you as well! Great customer service is as important as a soft, chewy chocolate chip cookie.
Now, I think it's time for a nap on a bag of flour underneath my work station! Good luck in the land of sugar and spice!