Magical makeover: The King Arthur Flour Baker's Store's 37 1/2-hour renovation

Once upon a time, there was a Baker’s Store in Norwich, Vermont. Now, this store had a rug on the floor that had been there since the building was built many years ago. And, like the rug in your family room, years of food spills, muddy shoes, and the day-to-day traffic of life and commerce had stained it, wrinkled it, and worn it threadbare. It was time for the rug to go—but how could The Store close for an extended period in the middle of summer, when all of the bakers from far and wide come to visit? The answer was—it couldn’t.

The following tale is entitled “Installing a New Floor: It Takes a Village Company.” An employee-owned company. Many of whom willingly came in on Saturday night, again on Sunday night, and at 6 a.m. Monday to get the job done.

First, The Plan. Close at 6 p.m. Saturday night. Empty the entire store, leaving the floor completely bare for the installation crew to rip out carpet, and put in a new composite wood floor. And reopen at 7:30 a.m. Monday.

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Everything’s got to go, ladies. Fill that shopping cart!

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Quickly the shelves empty, everything packed in numbered boxes, ready for a quick and organized unpacking early Monday.

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Hey, we feel right at home—this looks like our warehouse!

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Next, the shelving units are disassembled and moved out of the way.

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And rolling racks of all the stuff that didn’t go into boxes are wheeled into storage out back. “HOW many pounds of flour am I pushing?!”

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Next, we break for a late supper. Are your hands clean? OK, pizza time!

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Once the store is emptied, it’s time to double-check the new layout. “Tell me again where all that flour is going…?”

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11 p.m. Saturday, and the lights go off. We finish an hour early. The floor installers are set to arrive at midnight for their 24-hour marathon.

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Bright and early Monday—yes, 6 a.m.—we have a beautiful new floor. And an empty store. It’s time to put things back together. First, the counters have to be washed and dried.

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And the shelves washed, dried, and reassembled.

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By 7 a.m. a whole crew of employee-owners is on board, buckets of soapy water and rags in hand. Nice floor, huh?

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Then it’s time to put everything back where it belongs. Uhhhh… Where DOES everything belong?

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Well, here’s a home for the books, anyway.

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The sun rises higher, and gradually the shelves start to fill.

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MANY early-risers make light the work, and by opening time, 7:30 a.m…

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We are OPEN for business.

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Let the shopping begin! Come on up—you can help us break in our new floor. And sample the goodies from our demo kitchen. And have a sandwich and piece of pastry at our picnic tables by the pond. Maybe take a baking class? Stock up on ingredients for your fall baking? We look forward to seeing you soon.

This is why we love being en employee-owned company. We put our shoulders to the wheel together, and we make things happen—together. Thanks, team!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Dawn of Dawn's Recipes

    Ooooooh! I can’t wait to come in for a look! I was hoping my husband would want to stay in Stowe, VT for our anniversary next month so I could come by on our way up, but he’s taking me to Chatham, MA instead. (Ok, I guess I can’t complain!) I’m going to have to work on him so we can go up to “see the foliage” this fall…or at least that’ll be my story.

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  2. MikeLib

    To all the employee-owners:
    Congratulations on the new look, hope to visit this fall to check it out.
    Mike Lib

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  3. ColleenM

    I will be up in a few weeks so I will be able to see the floor in person then. It does looks great!

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  4. Megal Santoro

    Me and my sons own and operate a painting/baking in south Boston. We can’t wait to see the new floor looks amazing. Who installed the floor? I am looking for some floor work in our warehouse and need a crew who can work flexible hours. Can’t wait to see you ladies!!

    Megal, that would be Valley Flooring, 800-324-8001. Hope they can help – PJH

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  5. Teresa

    Nice new floor! I wish I can help break it in. Living in California, it might take me a little longer to get there. Some day I would love to visit you all.

    Just wanted to let you know that the new website layout is great and the recipe search is very user friendly!

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  6. Royce Robertson

    To Everyone at King Arthur Flour Baker’s Store:
    Your new floors and store look incredible. I’m way over here in Oregon but I would love to visit and see everything in person. Congratulations to all and thank you so much for sharing. You are like family and just like family, I love to hear all about your updates and what is going on in your world. Awesome job!
    Hugs,
    Royce

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  7. Marguerite Czarnecki

    From Paris : it is Thursday noon. What can I say, except that you are so great ? Can I add “God bless America” for the example you show to the world, working even during the night to be ready for your customers ? I will come and visit you (not only the floor).

    Thank you for being yourselves.

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  8. Anne Meddaugh

    I took my first ever baking class at KAF on Sunday 7/27 with a friend from Keene, NH. We were both very disappointed when we drove in and saw that the store was closed. The class (Summer Soups and Breads) was even more enjoyable than I had anticipated. I was so inspired with what I learned, I was wishing I could run over to the store and buy cornmeal, a measuring beaker, a bench knife and some bowls. To be sure, I’ll be heading back up to buy my baking tools and to check out your beautiful new floor. From the pictures, it sure looks like your crew actually enjoyed all the extra work it took to make the store more beautiful! I could shop online, but I think I’ll wait and come up for a visit to see for myself!

    Anne, so sorry you were one of the unlucky customers who couldn’t get in Sunday. I’m glad you’re close enough to make a return trip. Thanks for your understanding – PJH

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  9. Michelle

    The new floor looks great! Now I am going to have to make a trip back to the store to see the new floor in person!!

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  10. Kathleen Harvey

    Greetings King Arthur Team, from Portland, OR!
    I’m thrilled for your fresh floor – and for the team work you have exhibited! My husband and I will be visiting your corner of the country in the fall. If you could take a peek at our itinerary, you would see that we will be driving from St. Johnsbury to King Arthur on Sat., Sept. 27 – then on to Castleton for the night. We’ve been excited to visit you, your showroom and store – and now your new floor – since participating in one of the classes presented by your national teaching team last spring, here in the Portland area. They were also wonderful. Thank you for your continuing baking and cooking inspiration and the 24/7 resources you offer online! See you in September!

    Kathleen, the foliage should be getting into gear by then – hopefully! You never know, these trees have a way of doing their own thing each year… We’ll look forward to seeing you when you pass through. Have a wonderful trip – PJH

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  11. Kimberly

    My husband and I had the satisfaction of visiting your store while traveling between Dorset, Vt & Montreal in late June (we were on vacation from Ohio). We loved it! Vermont is a beautiful state that we plan to visit often and your store will always be on the top of the “to do” list. Hopefully, I can participate in a cooking class on our next visit.

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  12. Sandy

    Looks great!! My sister, who lives in Iowa, will be there Saturday to shop. I can’t tell you how excited she is to be coming to your store. And she has $$ to spend in a gift certificate I gave her for her 60 b-day in March. I will hopefully be making a visit the 1st week of September when we are up from NC visiting the grands in Concord NH.

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  13. Joyce

    The store looks great. My husband and I will be visiting Vermont on August 12-13. King Arthur is on the list of places to visit. Can’t wait to see the new look. Congratulations to all of you. Must be nice working for such a company. Keep up the good work. See you soon.

    Joyce

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  14. Tom

    Wow. Replacing the flooring was a huge job! I really appreciate the photos of the ‘new’ store. I realized I haven’t made the journey (pilgrimage?) from Oregon to Vermont since the new store was built! It may be time to plan a short vacation back east. I’ll have to check the class schedule!

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  15. LeAnne

    The store looks amazing! My son is hoping to go to attend college in Norwich and I’m looking forward to coming and checking it out (the school and King Arthur)! Now my son teases me that he will be only minutes away from the store. I guess he doesn’t realize that when he comes home to visit, he’ll be carrying bags and bags of King Arthur products with him!

    Alas, LeAnne – Norwich University is in Northfield, VT, not Norwich – about 70 minutes away. NorWICH is a tiny town with a general store, and that’s about it – though just across the river from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. But come visit anyway – we’re probably on your way… – PJH :)

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  16. dollybrandie

    I live locally and King Arthur Flour store is, as my husband puts it, my second home. I was at the store and the floors are great. There seems to be twice the room as a lot of the shelving is up against the wall. Had minor problem locating some familiar products, but everyone is always helpful. The one issue I had was that there are only two cashier areas, and nobody was sure where to stand and wait in line…. it was a little confusing.

    Thanks for the input about the cash register confusion — I’ve forwarded this along to the retail folks, and they’ll be looking into it. – PJH

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  17. Sue E. Conrad

    Wow, what teamwork!!! Will be at King Arthur on Wednesday, the 13th accompanied by my husband, second daughter and son-in-law (who is just as excited as I am about the upcoming visit!!!). Looking forward to spending my KAF gift card that I received for Christmas……..and, oh, by the way, the Pan Cubano was the crowning touch to the Cuban meal I prepared while at our fourth daughter’s house – DELICIOSO!!!!

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  18. David Harvey

    Looks as though you have a terrific new store…terrific……just one more reason to believe KAF is the greatest.

    Best of Luck and much success to everyone!

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  19. Frances Love

    Thanks for sharing your story and showing us how it was accomplished in such a limited time. You guys are truly amazing! I visited the store several years ago, and it was one of the big highlights of our trip. Thanks for getting your products into our local stores. I love baking with them. Wishing you well.

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  20. Barb

    I love your new floor. Your store is a wonderful place – food, drink, cookbooks and kitchen tools, who could want more? Look forward to an Autumn visit, since there is none of that here in Florida!

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  21. Nancy

    Alas, I was one of the unfortunate ones who went almost 100 miles out of my way to visit your store on that fateful Sunday. I live in NJ and hardly ever get up that way — you can’t imagine how disappointed I was. There was a small group of folks in the parking lot all hoping against hope that it was some kind of cruel joke. Someday I’ll try it again — but I’ll call beforehand.

    Oh, Nancy – so sorry! What bad luck, huh? I do apologize – for all of us here at KA. Hope you come back sometime… we’re open ALMOST every day (but don’t come Sept. 12, 3-6 p.m. – it’s our company summer picnic!) Check our Web site, too – it says when we’re closed unexpectedly… – PJH

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  22. Anne

    Where does the flour come from in King Arthur flour? 99+% of our wheat is grown and processed in the United States. A very little of our hard white wheat is grown in Canada, but processed in the United States. Mary @ KAF

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  23. Mimi

    Oh I need another King Arthur *fix* after seeing the renovations. The store looks terrific, good job! It’s always so clean and welcoming and the choice of products is unbelievable. Little things needed for baking that I can’t find anyplace, I know I can almost always find it at KAF. I also like knowing that you have such strict guidelines on flour quality which I have found, over the years, produces the same good quality baked goods time and again. Thanks!

    The baking classes look very interesting, as usual and I’m looking forward to a girls’ weekend, including one of your classes. It is going to become an annual event for us.

    Good job!

    Reply
  24. Deb Bianchi

    Well I have never been to your store but I would love to visit. The most inspiring thing to me in reading this story is how all the employees worked together to get the store’s floor installed. How great to work for such a company. Congrats to all and I wish I could work with people and for a company that works together and actually care about each other.

    All true, Deb. As an employee-owned company, we all have our shoulders to the same wheel. We have each other’s backs, so to speak. Thanks for your kind compliments! PJH

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  25. Nana

    I am, even more, looking forward to a visit especially since you’ve “cleaned up your act”. My son, who lives in Amherst, MA is eager to join me (and help me spend my hard earned money) Your products have always been a pleasure to work with and now that I have retired I have more time to bake. See you soon!!!

    The weather is absolutely beautiful now – we’ll look forward to meeting you in Norwich soon! PJH

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  26. Vera

    Count me in to the glowing compliments that have gone before. You’re an exceptional bunch of folks.

    Vera, on behalf of my 167 fellow employee-owners – thank you so much! PJH

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  27. Marilyn LeBlanc

    Dear Folks,
    I love the fact the you are employee owned – democracy is working.
    I’m writing to thank you for creating a beautiful, informative, helpful and totally addictive site. I wish you great and good fortune!

    Thanks so much, Marilyn – on behalf of me and my 167 fellow employee-owners! – PJH

    Reply
  28. Lisa Roberts

    Just got our computer (family Christmas present!) online, and after checking out a few websites I’ve longed to visit, decided to treat myself with a visit to King Arthur. Love it, love it, love it!! I only wish I lived closer than Cincinnati, OH. The website is great, so easy to cruise, esp. for a complete internet novice like myself! My mom used to get your catalogue, and we used to drool over everything together. Recently discovered your flour in my local Kroger and was in heaven! Can’t knead because of arthritis, but my bread machine and your flours are my best friends–even my kids like your bread! Someday, I hope to get up there, see your lovely store, and SHOP!

    WOW, Lisa – thanks for ALL the kind words! And please do come visit sometime – we look forward to meeting you – PJH

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  29. PENNY L

    LOVED YOUR STORE BEFORE AND I AM EXCITED ABOUT COMMING UP SOON FOR MY FALL SUPPLIES. AWESOME PLACE I TELL ALL MY COOKING FRIENDS ABOUT KING ARTHUR EVERY CHANCE I GET.

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  30. charlotte tice

    My son-in-law and daughter sent my husband and I to Vt for our 25th wedding anniversary last month. They knew I am a HUGE fan of king arthur and knew it was always my dream to take a class there so they added that to my list of places they paid for. I got my latte, sat at the little table, and planned my attack. I spent 2 hours drooling in that store before the class started. (Hopefully, I didn’t damage the new floor.) It was absolutely wonderful (the whole experience) I want to move from Western Md to Norwich during the summer months and work in your kitchen, anywhere actually! I love you guys!

    Reply
  31. Regis McKenna

    Just came to your website. It’s beautiful. I love the look of bread and wood (as in your structure) The photos of your marathon renovation are beautiful as well. I live in Columbus, Ohio. Too far for a casual trip. I have a long-time friend living in East Ryegate, VT. That’s still a bit out of the way too.

    The architecture of your building looks somewhat like a version of King Arthur’s castle. It’s heartening to hear that your business is thriving. Keep doing what you are doing.

    Sincrely,
    Regis McKenna

    Thanks you for your kind words, Regis – hope you make it out here someday… East Ryegate s only about an hour north of us. PJH

    Reply

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