Ashley's Pastry Shop thrives by holding relationships and recipes that stand the test of time.
Do you have a family tab at your local pastry shop? Can you swing by to pick up your favorite cupcake and leave with an IOU? At Ashley’s Pastry Shop in Oakwood, Ohio, you can. And these little details that showcase their trust in their customers and a focus on old-fashioned service are just a few of the special touches that have made Ashley’s a staple of their community for nearly 40 years.
In an historic building that has been a bakery for nearly a century, Ashley’s, which is named after one of the owners’ daughters, is committed to building relationships with customers, partners, and the community to celebrate the moments that matter to all of us.
“Everything is important to us,” said Theresa Hammons, who owns Ashley’s with her husband and family baker, Greg. “From a cookie after a hard day of school to a special event cake for an anniversary, we are there for all of it and appreciate how much these mories matter to our customers.
And Ashley’s assortment reflects this. The shop is famous for their Sand Tarts, a meringue-topped cinnamon cookie that gets rave reviews from locals and sells out regularly. They also carry donuts, glazed croissants, custom cakes, cupcakes and a wide range of cookies. They pair these traditional items with seasonal showstoppers that make every holiday and celebration extra special.
“We like to think of our business as a pie,” Theresa added. “Each piece is critical. And
those pieces are our partners, like Dawn Foods; our customers; the community; and our employees.” Ashley’s employs 18 people, including bakers, decorators and other experts who keep the business working 20 hours each day.
And while they’ve been asked to expand and open new locations for years, the owners believe that part of their magic is in staying small and focusing on the people and other local businesses that have their loyalty. “We grow year over year,” Hammons added. “But for us, success is not about adding more locations. It’s about cultivating the success of our employees and our business partners. We have local restaurants, like the globally and critically acclaimed Pine Club, that have counted on us as a supplier since their opening.” Hammons adds that many of their employees are students or people just starting out in their careers. “We have former employees who now own companies, are executives or lawyers, and when they are in town, they come back to visit and share a story with our current team.” It’s this type of success that drives the business.
In fact, it’s been this approach that helped the bakery weather the COVID storm. When restrictions in Ohio forced the bakery to close its doors for several weeks, the team at Ashley’s turned their focus on giving loyal customers what they wanted while supporting first responders and other area businesses.
“We promoted our gift cards, we shared our custom cakes and cookies for holidays like Mother’s Day at St. Patrick’s Day on social media, and we developed things like cookie decorating kits.” Hammons said. They also created Surprise Boxes that sold for various amounts and contained a mix of baked goods that customers could discover when they opened the lid. “It was a way to add a small element of fun and adventure into a hard time for the community,” she added.
To help other local businesses, Ashley’s also did a promotion that gave customers gift cards from other businesses with every donut purchase. “I specifically chose businesses in the Miami Valley that were forced to close during the Stay at Home order as I thought people needed a little reminder they were back open,” Hammons said. “The comments and thanks I received from the businesses were amazing. It emphasized that we are in this together.”
Working with Dawn Foods before COVID and now has also proven to be a valuable relationship.
“We consider ourselves to be great at what we do, and we look for partners who are the same,” Hammons added. “This is why we work with Dawn. They visit us in person. They value relationships the way we do, and they are committed to the growth of our business. I know they value me as an overall part of their success.”
Hammons said that Dawn realizes her time is valuable and makes the most of it with their expertise. “They visit, tell me what’s new, work with me on products, and have tools that help inspiration,” Specifically, Hammons loves Batter Up magazine, which helps her stay abreast of what to focus on, what trends are developing and how to create them in her own bakery. Having access to tools like the magazine when face-to-face meetings are not possible has been truly helpful.
She also loves working with Dawn’s technical support team. “The TSR’s help us with new, inventive products. Things aren’t as foolproof as they used to be. There are more techniques involved, and Dawn is
there to guarantee everything works as it should.” And as budgets and teams are tight as the economy emerges from COVID, ensuring operational efficiency and effectiveness is more important than ever.
What does the future hold for Ashley’s? “For us, it’s about baking memories,” Hammons added. “It may sound cliché, but it’s really true. We have families who now have grown children that stopped in every year on the first day of school to buy their toddler a cookie, and that carried through until they graduated. We have young moms who were brought into our bakery with their own mothers when they were small. It’s generational and we want that love and that tradition to continue.”
COVID has also reminded the team at Ashley’s that people truly care and that customers want to support the businesses that have been a part of their lives. “The continued support we receive from the community has been amazing,” Hammons added.