BUSINESS

Bake Me Happy to move after buying former post office building at Whittier and Parsons

Taijuan Moorman
The Columbus Dispatch
Letha Pugh, right, and Wendy Miller Pugh, founders of Bake Me Happy.

Bake Me Happy owners Letha Pugh and Wendy Miller Pugh have closed on the purchase of a former post office at East Whittier Street and Parsons Avenue, with plans it will become the bakery's new home.

As a small business enduring the uncertainty that the pandemic has brought, Bake Me Happy decided to invest in a space of its own. 

Located at 500 E Whittier St., the South Side post office has been closed for a few years now.

In looking for a space, the Pughs intentionally wanted to stay on the South Side, though they were open to a few other areas as well.

Letha Pugh said they hope to continue bringing people from all over the city to the gluten-free bakery, as well as residents of the neighborhood.

"We love the South Side. We feel like it's been really supportive of us, and hopefully they'll continue to be supportive," she said.

Buying building a 'wild ride' for Bake Me Happy owners

The owners have been looking for a space for a few years now, but struggled to find something that fit their needs. They eventually came across the old post office and began the process of purchasing the building in July.

Pugh said the process to get here has been a "wild ride," including navigating Small Business Administration loan requirements. Thankfully, she said, the building's owner was willing to work with them. "An opportunity like this could have easily slipped through our fingers," she said.

The building has a few quirks, such as see-through ceilings where employees processing mail were monitored, and it will be renovated. Bake Me Happy will make additions to the exterior, incorporating local artwork, and add a fully renovated front lobby with a bodega-style storefront. The bakery and coffee shop will sell all its current offerings, including coffee, wine, gluten-free beer and cider, and will continue to be carryout-only.

The post office building is about 4,000 square feet, a small decrease in space from about 4,500 square feet currently, but Letha said the new building will use space more efficiently, for example trading several freezers for a walk-in.

Bake Me Happy will be open at its Merion Village space at 106 E. Moler St. until July, a slower month for the bakery. Pugh expects to open the new location as soon as August.

She said it's important to be able to expose other business owners to the possibility and benefits of owning their own space. She notes this purchase has been "quite the undertaking," but it is a long-term investment the owners have made in their business.

The building sold for $405,000, and the business owners’ SBA 504 loan was about $800,000 to cover renovation costs. Their monthly payment is still less than what they paid each month while leasing, Pugh said.

"A lot of times, what you pay for the lease is potentially more than you would pay to own the building, and there is a tax benefit to it as well," said Pugh. "I think it's just important that as a business owner, you try to have some long-term investment in your business. And I think one of the ways to do that is through real estate acquisition."

And with how the South Side has developed in the years since the bakery has been there, this is an opportunity to take advantage of the hot real estate market in Columbus, something that has frequently been unavailable to Black residents

"I think a lot of times, you'll see specifically Black-owned businesses shut out of opportunity. But I also think it's important for people to see and understand that if you can jump through the hoops...there are resources out there that can help you take on something like this," Pugh said.

tmoorman@dispatch.com

@TaijuanNichole