The Family Bakery

Vickie and Allan “Cotton” Roberts opened The Family Bakery in Gate City, Virginia, on May 12, 2009…the dream of owning a bakery with a loft apartment above the shop came true that day…the road was long and winding.

The Roberts did not enter this dream all starry-eyed but, instead, did their research and due diligence before investing in The Family Bakery. They had a concept in mind and spent time visiting bakeries around the country and developing their menu.

The Roberts also attended some small business workshops hosted by Mountain Empire Community College’s Small Business Development Center where they met Tim Blankenbecler, Director of MECC’s SBDC. The mentor relationship began in January of 2009, when the discussion included potential financing options and creating a business plan for their project.

Through one-on-one  counseling sessions, it was determined that the best loan program available for the Roberts’ needs at the time was Scott County Economic Development’s revolving loan fund, which was established through the  USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program.

The application process required a business plan and a loan application. Vickie said, “I didn’t want to do that business plan. In fact, I was in the waiting room when my third grandchild was born, working on that business plan with a Sharpie so I could get it turned in for funding because there was a deadline for the application.”  Both Vickie and Cotton agreed the “dreaded” business plan has been The Family Bakery’s most useful tool.

“You definitely need a plan if you want to borrow money,” Roberts remarked. “These folks want to make sure you succeed, and Tim was truly a blessing.”

With the low-interest loan, the family opened the business in May, 2009.  Working with the SBDC Director over the next four years, they created 8 new jobs and grew revenue well into the six figures.

To enhance the ongoing one-on-one counseling experience, the SBDC Director used financial tools such as ProfitCents and market research tools such as IBISWorld. These resources provided industry-specific useful information for the client’s day-to-day decisions.

The Family Bakery’s owners were recognized at the 2012 Annual Scott County Chamber of Commerce Business and Industry Appreciation Breakfast with an Entrepreneur Spirit Award in conjunction with the Governor’s “Year of the Entrepreneur” campaign.


Virginia SBDC