Retail Tipsheet: Bellingham bakery looking for help to serve gluten-free community

A Bellingham business owner in a financial jam is turning to her customers and social media for help.

Last week Christie Jaquette wrote a post on her Facebook business page about the financial struggles of Bellingham Flat Bread & Bakery at 2500 Cornwall Ave. The business has a short-term and a longer-term problem that needs addressing. The short-term problem is cash flow: Sales recently have been among the slowest in the four-years she’s owned the business, creating a situation where the business has fallen behind on bills. At the suggestion of one of her customers she set up a page to raise money.

“The response so far has been amazing,” Jaquette said last week as pledges from people were steadily posted on the page, ranging from $5 to $100. “It’s very heartening to see this outpouring of support.”

The longer-term issue has to do more with the identity of the business and finding a way to make it more efficient. One can’t tell by the business name, but nearly half of this bakery’s business comes from baking gluten-free items. When Jaquette bought the business four years ago, flat bread was a big portion of the business. Once she gets on better financial footing, she plans on changing the business name to better reflect what it does.

The other half of sales comes from baked goods that do have gluten in them, which presents the other business challenge of making both gluten and gluten-free products in one commercial kitchen. Cleaning a kitchen to make it ready for gluten-free baked goods is a huge undertaking that requires the prep area to be closed up to eight hours before making the switch to avoid cross-contamination. Ideally, Jaquette would like to have a second kitchen, which would free up labor and make more products.

“My dream would be to have a cafe dedicated to gluten-free baked goods,” Jaquette said, adding that a second kitchen for baked goods with gluten could be installed separately. “We want to give people (who suffer from gluten allergies) a place that is safe to go out and eat.”

Basically she believes in her products and that the demand is here in Bellingham, but the business needs to take that next step because it is struggling at its current size.

“I don’t want to quit making... baked goods that make a difference in peoples lives,” Jaquette said in her Facebook post. “I don’t want to be another small business going out of business, especially when what we offer can make such a major impact in peoples’ lives.”

The reason Jaquette believes she is making an impact on peoples’ lives come from the feedback she gets from her customers of gluten-free products. For some it helps, she said, particularly with digestive health. She said the stories she hears from her customers is part of what keeps her going, even through the tough times.

“It’s an untapped market here,” Jaquette said. “I don’t dream small and I believe in what I’m doing.”

For further details, call the bakery at 360-714-3103.

Fairhaven bead store to close Dec. 23

A longtime Fairhaven business is closing its storefront to focus on online sales.

After 26 years in business, Bead Bazaar is closing its store at 1001 Harris Ave. on Tuesday, Dec. 23. Owner Elisa Shafa said sales of the products she offers have shifted to online in recent years, so she has decided to focus her efforts on selling through her website,

The company is currently having a 50 percent off sale at its store on a variety of items, including beads and charms.

Shafa said the closure announcement was met with dismay by customers, but many understood the decision to focus on selling online.

The store will have longer hours in its final two days of business, staying open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

Other tidbits

Hardware Science Day for children is back. This month’s presentation is learning about what magnets and music speakers have in common. It takes place at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27 at the Bellingham Ace Hardware store in the Sehome Village shopping center. For more information, call 360-933-4686. ... A tenant improvement permit was submitted for the Rite Aid store at 1400 Cornwall Ave. to do some remodeling work, including replacing the canopy at the front of the store. ... The inspections and other tenant improvement details are nearly finished for the Trampoline Zone at 4201 Meridian St., Suite 107. Owner Rajiv Malhan said they are expecting to open on Tuesday, Dec. 23. ... The Bellingham Kohl’s store is open 24 hours a day until 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 24 for those who need to finish up their Christmas shopping.