Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pop Up Shop: Annie the Baker Cookies

Annie the Baker Cookies - pop up shop on July 2, 2015
I’ve written before about my culinary school classmate, Annie, who, after we graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in St Helena, went on to become the executive pastry chef at Mustard’s Grill then eventually opened her own business: Annie the Baker Cookies. She sells online and at local farmers’ markets in Napa Valley as well as supplies local businesses with her cookies.

I’m happy to say I was able to get her into our pop up shop at work as well. I love our pop up shop for exactly this opportunity it provides to small businesses to have a different avenue with which to sell their wares and get additional exposure. Annie went through the normal pop up shop vendor vetting process and set up shop the day before our 4th of July holiday. I have to admit I was a little bit concerned about the timing as I didn’t know if a lot of people would be taking off early for the holiday and whether there would be enough people on campus. Annie bounced numbers off me on how many cookies she should bring – 400 or 500? She normally sells 300-350 cookies during a typical morning at the Napa Valley Farmers Market. I thought it was better to err on the side of caution, meaning it was better to have leftovers than to run short. Plus, let’s be honest, I’m a fan of Annie’s cookies so I would have been more than happy to buy up the leftovers. Because I’m a good friend like that….

It was the super busy period for my group but I managed to pop out early when Annie’s pop up shop was supposed to initially open at 11 so I could lend moral support and buy cookies for my hardworking team. They were just finishing the set up so I was her first customer and promptly bought an assortment of a dozen cookies. I had the double intent of sharing the goodness with my coworkers but also creating some buzz internally so if people liked her cookies, they could go to the pop up shop and buy some as well. I had also arranged for my friend K to come visit me for a late lunch that day as she’s met Annie and tried her cookies before so K could also provide some cookie business and moral support. 

It turns out all of my precautions and concerns were for naught. When K arrived around 1, Annie had been open for close to 2 hours. Pop up shop hours are 11-3:30. We stopped by to say hello and her cookie jars were about half full with most of the cookies and I knew she had backup containers to refill the jars so I figured we were fine despite the people now clustered around the pop up shop buying cookies. I was thrilled and relieved Annie was getting business and her pop up shop appeared to be a success.

Ha, turned out that was an understatement. When K and I returned after getting salads, we were greeted with only 2 cookie jars left that had any cookies. Everything else was sold out and it wasn’t even 2 o’clock yet. While we were standing there getting an update from Annie on how things went, more people kept coming by and buying up the last of her cookies. By the time we left (and we didn’t stay that long), she was down to a handful of cookies.Not surprising if you like great cookies and have tried Annie’s. She told me she had brought 425 cookies. She was sold out by 2:15 and had to close up shop early when she ran out of cookies to sell. K wasn’t even able to get her favorite (and mine) of the Milk Chocolate Toffee Cookies as Annie had run out. Good thing I had bought the dozen earlier that morning as that was all I was able to get as well. No, I didn’t eat all 12 since I shared but I ate the Milk Chocolate Toffee before K had even arrived because – you know – cookie.

The cookies I bought to share
Annie and I are kindred spirits when it comes to cookies. We both believe they have to be chubby not thin, chewy not cakey and moist not overbaked. She prides herself on erring on the side of cookie dough more than baked cookie. Apparently she’s not alone because I haven’t met a person yet who doesn’t like an Annie the Baker cookie. I’m hoping she’ll be asked back to have another pop up shop and the people who didn’t get to try them the first time will have another shot at it. If you’re not able to see her at the Napa farmers’ market, she does sell her cookies online and you can choose your own assortment. I will always go with the Milk Chocolate Toffee but it’s good to have choices. 
Peanut Butter Extreme


Milk Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Semisweet Chocolate Chip

Tuxedo Cookies

Milk Chocolate Toffee Cookie

Annie the Baker, almost sold out

This cookie got sold while we were standing there


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