Ruth Hinzmann decided after 15 years in the bakery business that she had had enough of the bakery business.
Hinzmann changed her mind after two weeks in an office environment.
The main difference between her previous bakery business and her current can be found at 50 W. Main St. in downtown Platteville, Moundside Bakery. Her previous business of the same name had wholesale customers. Her current bakery is a retail business.
“I ran a bakery in Sherrill, Iowa, for 15 years,” said Hinzmann. “I closed it down, tried to retire, went to an office setting, and decided that wasn’t for me.”
Hinzmann purchased the business from its retiring owners in 1998, working out of the basement of her parents’ house.
Her wholesale customers in Iowa included gas stations, farmers’ markets, and Hartig Drug stores. Sales were on consignment, meaning that stores only bought what they sold. Additionally, business at farmers’ markets is dependent on the weather.
“It got to be very, very hard to make a profit,” she said. “The baking industry the way I did it was extremely physical and it was to the point where I wanted to be in a less physical occupation.”
After two weeks, though, she made a discovery.
“When you’re your own boss for 15 years, and regardless of how good the job is, it’s very hard to go back into that kind of structured work environment,” she said. “I found out it wasn’t for me.”
Hinzmann’s specialty is tea biscuits. “It’s a rare commodity,” she said. “A lot of people don’t make them.”
Moundside’s offerings also includes pies and cookies, “and just for fun we kind of crossed over into the doughnut world, and we’re having fun with it. And I love to make bread.
“Everybody would ask, are you going to be doing doughnuts? We’re looking to provide the community what they’re looking for. We’re learning trends, slowly but surely.”
That includes such requests as gooseberry pie and “little tiny cookies. … I can do pretty much any kind of pie.” She also does sugar-free, gluten-free and nut-free versions.
The bakery, which opened Oct. 10, has two employees, including her son, Eric, a UW–Platteville student. Hinzmann’s brother, Mark Meiers, is a part-owner. “It’s been a full-family project,” she said, adding that her boyfriend and her family worked on constructing the bakery in the building.
“Our goal is to bake it fresh daily,” she said. “I used to bake huge batches and freeze half. That’s pretty much the theme now — fresh-baked daily.”
Shortly after deciding two years ago to get back into the bakery business, Hinzmann started talking to Jack Luedtke, executive director of the Platteville Main Street Program.
“I really liked the Platteville area when I was looking for schools for my son,” she said. “It just kind of all went together — the location, the availability of employment, retail, a tremendous need for a bakery here — it all just kind of fit.”
Starting a new business required buying new equipment, since Hinzmann had sold all of her equipment “right down to my last spoon and spatula.”
Hinzmann’s location also required extensive electrical upgrades, done by Hinzmann’s “fantastic landlord,” she said. “We were going to start simple with kitchen-grade stoves, and we found out that would be much more expensive.”
One thing hasn’t changed between wholesake bakery and retail bakery: “It’s usually a 12-hour day,” she said.
Hinzmann plans on adding lunch after Jan. 1, available on either bread or croissants.