Amanda Bowers didn’t sleep on Fridays. She didn’t have time.
At 8 a.m. on Friday morning, Bowers would get busy creating culinary works of art, working throughout the night and into the next day. On Saturday, she and her son Tyler would sell the creations at the Haile Farmer’s Market.
She followed this routine for three years. But in August, she made some new additions to that routine.
Bowers opened her own storefront bakery, BakerBaker, this August. And she credits the move from her small home kitchen to a brick-and-mortar business to her faithful customers and organic relationships.
“If the customers at Haile weren’t the customers at Haile, we wouldn’t be anywhere,” Bowers said. “It could be thunder and lightning, and they still come out in their rain boots, and their umbrellas, and their parkas in the winter.”
The customer’s support might have given Bower’s the inspiration for BakerBaker, but brothers Bret and Tim Larson offered the space needed to make the business possible.
Bowers had started baking a commercial kitchen on SW 34th Street with a few other local bakers, and planned on selling her pastries wholesale. This was until she met Bret Larson, co-founder of Opus Coffee, in a parking lot.
After introducing herself, she told Bret that whatever pastries he was selling in his coffee shop, hers were far more tasteful, and then handed him her business card.
Two weeks later, Bret and his brother Tim tried Bower’s pastries. They were instantly hooked, and started selling her sweets in their shop.
Over time, a strong relationship formed between the brothers and Bowers. Recently, they renovated extra store space, which became BakerBaker.
“They took a chance on us when nobody else in town would,” said Brian, Bower’s husband.
Brian said without the Larson brothers, he and his wife could not have realistically afforded the space.
“Because we were providing them with pastries and they happened to have a building, those two things kind of came together organically,” Brian said.
The process didn’t happen overnight, though. It took time.
“We did it brick by brick,” Bowers said. “I wanted to do this the old fashioned way, where you slowly build your customers, you slowly get equipment…everything here has been added on very, very slowly, and when we could afford it, rather than [taking out] a loan.”
Even with the opening of her shop, Bowers will continue to be at the market every Saturday.
The shop is only open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for two reasons: first, so Bowers and her husband can be there for their two sons, and second, so she can use her Fridays to prepare for the market.
Sharon Breitinger has been buying pastries from Bowers since she started selling at the farmer’s market. Her husband was there the morning the shop opened.
“Her personality and that of her boys—we call them the Three Musketeers—that’s what makes you want to support a local business,” Breitinger said, while also commenting on the dynamic relationship Bower’s has with the Larson brothers.
“Even the Opus guys. The way she’s helping support their business, and they’re in turn helping to support hers. That’s what makes Gainesville, Gainesville.”