The Baking Stone

Bread1%5B1%5D(2)Disappointed. I really wanted to love this place. I still really, really do want to love it. But like any dysfunctional relationship, I envisioned The Baking Stone to be something that it unacceptably was not.

You had me at organic pastries.

This quaint little business, snuggled into the Saint John City Market, first opened it’s bakery doors in October 2001. With products ranging from fresh crusty breads, to dangerously delicious pastries (try a melt-in-your-mouth “Lobster Tail”), TBS boasts products that are of highest quality, naturally preserved with no artificial additives, sweeteners coloring or preservatives. What is not to love?!

Well, it appears that TBS has expended so much of it’s energy creating quality fresh baked goods, that there was no energy remaining to invest in the other important half of the quality equation, that is: customer experience. Unfortunately consumersj can not be happy on quality products alone.

It goes like this: in order to run a successful retail business, you should make it ridiculously easy for me to give you my money. Telling me that you take cash only is not a good example of this (psst.. Tim Horton, are you listening?). So fair enough, I will do my part and make a special trip to the bank machine to withdraw cash before I visit your venue. But remember, on the days that I can’t be bothered to do this; my money will simply go elsewhere.

Last Saturday, in preparation for an evening dinner party, I did just this. I made a special trip to the bank machine, money in tow, trotted directly to TBS to scope out the seductive display of desserts from outside the refrigerated glass. Beautiful music began to play in my mind as I imagined my guests biting into a sliver of delectable che….

Sound Record Scratch

 “I’m closed.” I heard from behind the counter.  I looked at my watch: 4:45pm.

“I thought you closed at 5?” I questioned.

“We do, but I need to count my cash early so that I can get out right at 5pm.”


“Well then, what happens to all of these desserts here in your cabinet [seducing me]?”

“They’ll go in the freezer.”


Exit consumersj.

A few things:

1. If you care more about ‘getting out at 5’ than taking my money, you don’t want your business to succeed.

2. If you can’t even ponder a way to take my money [and perhaps apply it to the next business day’s float -or something!?], you don’t want your business to succeed.

3. If you are a ‘cash only’ retailer, you don’t want your business to succeed [in 2009].

4. If I’ve got money in my hand to offer you for the products you are selling, and you turn me and my money away for any other lame rationale, you don’t want your business to succeed.

5. If you are not competing with the hours of other City Market vendors right beside you, you don’t want your business to succeed.

It’s not you Baking Stone, it’s me. I just need some space.



City Market
Saint John, NB  E2E 5Y2


8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Urban Plans said,

    This is a great post.

    I got a call yesterday asking me to pick up some bread for a dinner. The baking stone is between my office and my home, so I went there (after going to the bank to get cash). Getting there are 5:15 or so, the shop was mostly put away. I find it annoying how many vendors in the market are starting to shut down during a time that could be their busy (on non-cruise ship days).

  2. 2

    Tanya said,

    I too have not had a positive experience with TBS. I ordered a cake last fall for my brother’s wedding rehearsal party. I went over the specifics of what I did and did not want. The “baker” argued with me over what I wanted (this should have been my first clue to take my money and run), I again specifically stated what I did and did not want. So the day of the rehearsal party I go to pick up the cake and it is the UGLIEST cake I have ever seen. It was EVERYTHING I did not want. The girl on the cash wasn’t the baker and refused to touch the cake. I asked her to scrape off the ugly parts and to please fix it. She still refused and I waited and waited for the head person who was at yoga (?). I then told her to take the cake back and give me my money back. She did give me money back and unfortunately off to the Superstore I went. I was very embarrassed to be the person bringing the cake…sad experience that could have been done so differently. Needless to say I won’t go back.

  3. 3

    Sara said,

    I got really excited when I heard that TBS had started carrying Gluten Free baked goods on Fridays. Drooling at the thought of sinking my teeth into something freshly baked that potentially did not tasted like cardboard, I anxiously darted to the shop to examine their wares. To my great disappointment they were not freshly baked at all, rather freshly shipped commercial breads…the same ones I can buy at the Superstore for significantly less ($8.00 v.s. $5.49…a loaf). I am guessing that I was not the only person taken in by the deception, because they stopped carrying the products.

  4. 4

    Deb said,

    I too have been disapointed with TBS. I am continually amazed and unfortunately disapointed with some of the vendors in the Market. As mentioned in the post, closing early is not acceptable and a cash only business? This is 2009 and frankly if I am going to take the time to get cash I’d better be impressed. Unfortunately, they do lack customer serviced and to be honest the quality is not there.

  5. 5

    Sad and Hungry said,

    We entertain frequently, shop at the City Market often, a while back we stopped by this place to get sweets for a party of 20. Picked out some things, the portions were too large for finger food style serving, so we asked if they would quarter them……well you know the answer……the owner said….sorry, we are too busy. We pressed a bit on the point, she insisted..nope cannot do it; so we turned on our heels and left with our money. So since then we have deligently worked to ensure we never contribute to their problem of being “TOO BUSY”; we simply don’t trouble them any more and buy our sweets elsewhere.

  6. 6

    mysaintjohn said,

    I don’t have an issue with cash only at businesses like Tim Hortons but if you are running a business which is open until five you should be prepared to accept customers right up until 4:59. It’s inconvenient, but turning away people does not a strong customer base make.

  7. 7

    Kate said,

    This is all very upsetting. I was really excited to contact TBS do some sweets for my upcoming wedding reception. Guess not. TBS — what are you doing???

    Now what? any ideas? I want Really fantastic Cup Cakes?


  8. 8

    Ahhhh TBS. I do love their rye bread and their multigrain loaf with sunflower seeds. Oh soooo good. I haven’t had the service problems you all have experienced. That’s very unfortunate for them to start to be known in this manner. Makes me wish I sold actual baked goods instead of soap. 🙂

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