Tracey and Bob Hart own Auntie’s House in Kennebunk, Maine, a bakery/chocolate/gift store where you can buy, among other very yummy things, ice cream sandwiches made with various kinds of homemade cookies. Yum! My favorite. Tracey took some time out of her busy summer season to answer a few questions about their business.
Interview with Bakery Owner Tracey Hart
How long have you been in business and how did you decide to start a business?
We have been in business for 3 years and 5 months. My in-laws owned a business years before, so we took over the name and started our own spin on it. We then changed the name and Bob and I own it fully now.
Did you have any business experience before you started Auntie’s House?
No, neither one of us had a business prior to this.
What does you typical day look like?
A typical day would be to come in and get the baked goods ready, get the store ready (ex.; sink, register, flags etc.), washing dishes, getting doughs ready for the next day, more baking, dipping chocolate, waiting on customers, washing more dishes, cleaning up. Just pretty much busy work all day, there’s always something to do! If you see us sitting down it’s because we needed a break, we’ll be back at it soon.
What has surprised you about business ownership?
Although it is hard work, it is a lot of fun and you don’t have to answer to a boss! Also, people are always looking for donations. They think if you have a business you have plenty of money.
Have you made any mistakes that other business owners can learn from?
Well, advertising is important, but, be careful in which avenues and cost. Although having ads in the right papers are good, word of mouth is most important. Don’t put all of your ad money in one place!
Have you had any successes that other business owners can be encouraged by?
Well, I have been told numerous times that my products are the best they’ve ever tasted, so I would say that whatever you do, do it to the best of your abilities and with love.
Do you have any advice for couples thinking about going into business together?
Pray and see if you are both okay with the decision. It will be a lot of work and a lot time! If you both feel like it’s a go then do it! You don’t want to be sorry years later that you didn’t try. Your marriage and kids come first, so make sure you both still have time with your kids.
Where did you get the name “Auntie’s House”?
I came up with the name because, well, I’m an Auntie and I make homey, yummy things you may find at home, or your Aunt’s or Gramma’s house. So I just wanted it to sound comfortable and relaxing.
Do you have any thoughts about branding?
The logo (an old-fashioned cook stove) reminds me of a comfy home with things baking and people relaxing and being cozy. Homestyle baked treats. I hope people get a similar feeling from that. We have that logo on everything, stickers, cards, boxes, Facebook, website.
I asked Tracey to write down three words that she thought described Auntie’s House, and I did the same. I wrote, “yummy, nostalgic, homemade” and she wrote, “Unique, delicious, homey or heartwarming.” I’d say she’s projecting exactly the image that she hoped to!
Going to the Maine coast this summer? Lucky! I highly recommend stopping by Auntie’s House.