Entrepreneurs “cook up” lockdown loophole: online baking


In a poll conducted by CNBC, almost half of small business owners said their businesses will be forced to close for good if the coronavirus shutdowns go much longer.

Just this past week, the unemployment rate jumped to over 14% – the highest since the Great Depression.

Yet, despite these almost unprecedented economic hurdles, some entrepreneurs are cooking up a way to stay afloat by utilizing online marketplaces.

The website Etsy.com, for example, is seeing a huge spike in online sellers of home-baked goods from country farms and family kitchens. According to the Wall Street Journal, many sellers of baked goods on Etsy are seeing orders increase by anywhere from 200-450%.

Etsy in the past has typically been home to sellers of custom jewelry and other artisan crafts. But with many bakeries and other small shops closed, online bakers have seen a way to meet Americans’ demand for home-baked breads, pastries, and desserts – and the buyer never has to leave their home or put up with the stress and health questions of crowded supermarkets.

This is only possible due to several states passing what are known as “cottage food” laws, which allow for home cooks to sell their baked and prepared foods through distributors or online means.

As America tries to transition out of the lockdowns, it is unclear if the online demand for made-at-home baked goods will continue or wane away.

Regardless, entrepreneurs are finding a way to meet the continued needs of American consumers.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal:

A company spokeswoman said searches on Etsy for terms like “baked goods” and “brownies” have roughly doubled in the past two months, compared with a year ago. Searches on the site for related terms yield tens of thousands of items from nearly as many sellers, everything from sourdough bread and gourmet doughnuts to Keto-friendly waffles and alkaline tahini spelt cookies. The company declined to offer numbers on the sale of food items.

The Etsy bakers I’ve spoken with are tired but, to a person, glad to have a marketplace for their goods. And in a time of pandemic, it’s not just the ability to make a living they are grateful for. On a site that encourages customers to message sellers, bakers say they’re chatting with buyers more than ever.

One lady ordered scones and put a note on her order to please put nothing on the outside of the box that revealed there was food inside,” says Ms. McMinn. “She said, ‘Life is hard right now and I don’t want to share.’”

You can read the entire Wall Street Journal article here.

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