Hectic and happy: the holiday rush at our Baker's Store.

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[Note: Welcome to new blogger Gwen Cook, a member of our Baker's Store team.]

King Arthur Flour is America’s premier baking resource. And I’ve managed to land myself a job here, at The Baker’s Store and Café – my first job after college.

It’s not like I was coming into a retail job with no experience; I’ve worked at an amusement park since I was 13, and a grocery store since I was 16. I understand how busy it gets during the holidays.

Or at least I thought I did.

I was told on my first day of work that I was joining the team during the busiest time of the year, and sometimes it gets so crazy that there’s barely enough room to move. I shrugged off these words of warning, thinking that it couldn’t possibly be that bad.

Wrong-o.

My first experience with a truly busy day was during the beginning of foliage season. Did you know that there are buses filled with people out leaf-peeping who absolutely love King Arthur Flour? I certainly do now.

It was like a slow-motion scene at a department store on Black Friday, where people are literally pouring in the door… and heading straight towards the bathroom.

In all seriousness, it was one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever witnessed and been a part of. All of these excited people coming at you with questions about products, the company’s history, and shipping –  these questions being nearly impossible to answer, given the two days of experience I had under my belt.

One of the best things I’ve gotten from my time so far at King Arthur Flour is the truly wonderful and knowledgeable people I’ve met and worked with. Whenever I have a question (which is often), I can ask any of my co-workers; they’re always so patient with me, not to mention knowledgeable about everything to do with the company. I think because of them I strive to learn as much as possible, and in turn I’ve truly fallen in love with the place that I work.

The women who work in our demo kitchen are amazing. Not only are they sweet as can be but they test our mixes and usually find a way to incorporate chocolate. I dare you to find a person who can resist warm, chocolate-y baked goods. I certainly can’t.

There’s no way you can’t be excited to go to work each day with the thought of tasty samples running through your mind.

Restocking in the store is planned around the busy times, such as the lunch rush and 5 o’clock swarm.

Sometimes, though, things run out…

…and there’s no other option than to take that gray cart out and with a pack full of “excuse me’s” handy, attempt to restore order.

I think the very best thing is when customers come over to the cart and pull things from it. I feel like a very efficient worker when that cart is empty and I exerted minimum effort. Thank you, everyone!

King Arthur Flour is a big believer in versatile employees. We should know how to do as many different things as possible, since the company is employee-owned and we’re so invested in everything. On my second month of work my friend Tami and I got to go to our fulfillment center to learn how to pack and ship packages.

I give so much credit to every single person there who has to do that each day. It’s tough.

After lots of practice packing boxes we brought our skills back to The Baker’s Store, since we ship store purchases and there was going to be a lot happening in the upcoming months.

Our store’s café serves freshly baked pastries and treats, sandwiches, soups, salads, panini, hot specialty drinks, and so much more. It can get stressful behind the counter, when there are lines of people waiting to order, there’s more product to put out, drinks to be made, and coffee to brew. The day flies by, though.

When I’m working the bakery counter I usually have a smile on my face all day, simply because everyone is pleasant, both co-workers and customers.

It says a lot about King Arthur Flour that customers are happy to wait for our products because they’re so delicious, and employees can genuinely smile even when dealing with a line.

One of the most rewarding things that I can say that I’ve gained from working at King Arthur Flour is that I can answer most questions now with the utmost authority. And when people ask for my advice on a product I can say that I enjoyed it.

As sappy as this may sound, working in The Baker’s Store and Café makes me happy pretty much all the time.

comments

  1. BenjaminAdams

    I’ve seen some of the lines that can build up in the Baker’s Store, they’re certainly enough to scare me – and I don’t even work there! Everyone in the Baker’s Store does an amazing job ensuring customers are satisfied year round, but during the holidays it takes a lot more effort, I certainly have a lot of respect for them.

    Also, what a wonderful first blog from Gwen, keep up the great work!

    Yes, Gwen’s not only great on the sales floor – we might have to recruit her for more blog posts here! :) PJH

    Reply
  2. michaelnatoli

    Let me know if they have any interest in hiring an old pastry chef whose to young to call it a day … to sell and work on the floor. I’m a year or so away from retiring here in Arlington, Va (I’m a high school chef-instructor) and would be a good fit with King Arthur. You’ve got a year to think about it.

    Thanks

    Reply
  3. fussybritches19

    Lucky duck! Of course, I think just about any job at KAF would be pure heaven–even cleaning up in the demo kitchen would be a dream job (plenty of bowls to lick).

    Can’t wait until I’m one of those tourists pouring through the doors of the Baker’s Store!

    Who made the Buche de Noel in the cafe pic?

    The buche was made by our bakery – not sure which baker, or maybe it was a group effort! We look forward to welcoming you to our store – maybe this summer? :) PJH

    Reply
  4. Maggie

    Great post, Gwen. I love the perspective you gave. And I had no idea KAF was employee owned. I like it even more now. Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Hazelsmum

    What a nice article Gwen! Makes me feel like I shopped in person. I kept your shipping department busy this Christmas with great products! You must be proud to work at KAF, customer service is great, shipping is fast and packed so well and the products are great and the store looks like so much fun and all the people you get to meet! Maybe some day I will make it to the store.

    Merry Christmas!

    We’d love to welcome you to our store some year – hope to see you up here! PJH

    Reply
  6. Paul from Ohio

    Welcome aboard Gwen. Both you and Amy truly lucked out, in my opinion, to find such a wonderful employer directly from college. I guess I’m envious of all the years of enjoyment and service not to mention employment/contribution, to/with a company that you will continue to be so proud of – like all of us, your customers! Have a great new life at KAF – truly a major favorite of mine. Great Blog!

    Reply
  7. cartvl219

    I, too, have only visited the store once but it was an amazing experience. I admitted to my first visit to one of the sales associates and she ran around telling all her co-workers that I had come all the way from North Carolina to shop at their store!!!! Well, actually I had been at a high school reunion in western Massachusetts and I wasn’t heading back south until I had visited my favorite store.
    (My second favorite store, Penzeys Spices, has just opened in this area and I can drive over there in less than a half hour. Oh bliss, Oh rapture!! I applied for a job but didn’t make the cut. Sob!)
    If I had known about or if there were jobs like this when I was Gwen’s age…..who knows?

    Reply
  8. A baker in VA

    Loved this blog! The enthusiasm of the folks at King Arthur is so evident, and it shows in the quality of all the products.
    I was lucky enough to visit the store once; I refer to it as “The Holy Grail” for bakers!
    All the best to you in your new job. It’s wonderful to have work that you love.

    Reply
  9. svanzutfen

    Welcome, Gwen! I visited the store twice in a week this past summer before I knew much about King Arthur Flour. That visit was part of making me a very happy customer. You are very blessed to be working there. Thank you for sharing what you are learning!

    Reply
  10. susiejohnson

    Ok, now I really do have to make the trip up north to see this place. I may never go home. I love the email and the fabulous recipes. Happy holidays …

    Yes, you absolutely do, Susie – only don’t come tomorrow, we’re having a blizzard! :) PJH

    Reply
  11. dawn18745

    I now have proof that my impression of KAF and the employee-owners is even greater that I could imagine. Oh, how I love baking and KAF. I experienced my first KAF traveling demo in Columbia MD in November. I arrived at 8:30am for the 11am demo because I wanted to have a front row seat and I succeeded:-). I learned so much and even won a door prize. My Christmas orders arrived on time and with great anticipation. My Dessert & amp Sandwich Shoppe open in April so I”m hoping to make a trip to Vermont before then. All the best to you Gwen and thanks for your great blog!!

    Reply
  12. Dorothy Vusich

    I have just read about your Company, I have used some of your products,but now I will use much more.
    I wish I were much younger as I would love to work at your facility. Young people today need to work at a Company that cares, they will get a good start with your company & if their smart they will stay a long time. I once worked for Lawrys California center & I was always happy to come to work.It not only had beautiful gardens to have lunch at, to do the tours, I was very impressed with the cleanliness & that is how I came to work for them. Keep up the good work Now onto buy more of your products.

    Reply

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