The Golden Flour Bakery
In downtown Creston, Canyon Street is home to many successful, locally-owned businesses. The Golden Flour Bakery is one of those businesses; standing out as a hometown favourite.
In 2014, Bill and Liza Thorne decided it was time to move from the city and join other family in the Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake area. When visiting in the dead of winter, Bill and Liza were pleasantly surprised about local temperatures in Creston. Having experienced harsh Calgary winters, they decided this area would be ideal to retire. Due to circumstances, they decided not to wait until retirement to move to the Creston area. Upon looking for jobs, Lisa and Bill noticed a need for their style of baking – old-fashioned. This moment of gleaming opportunity was the beginning of The Golden Flour Bakery journey.
Since opening in 2015, the bakery’s mission is to make people feel welcome, comfortable, and at home. Bill and Liza are dedicated to provide an exceptional and visually-enticing bakery experience. Their aroma of fresh, sugary goodness fill customers with memories of good times with friends and family. Their products are all inclusive to everyone with any pallet.
With over 48 years of combined bakery experience, this family has no shortage of baking knowledge. Both Bill and Liza have bakery management experience working for large corporate chains. Working long hours, meeting corporate targets, and working alongside over 50 different bakers helped the Thornes proceed with confidence towards running their own business. By identifying best practices from experiences, they’ve created a baking style that works best for them and the community.
To act on their opportunity, the Thornes went all in. They cashed in RRSPs, received a government loan through the bank, and started learning business operations. Liza took a 12 week Community Future’s course to help build a business plan, review key administrative tasks, and learn how to book keep for their specific bakery business. Even though they knew what to do, the Thornes wanted to make sure they didn’t miss a single detail towards achieving their dream.
Speaking with Liza and Bill in the back office of their bakery, I learned a lot about their vision for creating a successful business in the Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake area. Here is some of their feedback for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Know your audience and market. Having worked in a city, the audience in Creston is noticeably smaller; which affects how they operate and project future business activity. “We operate with 25-30 customers as our base for our products,” Liza explained. “Our target market is smaller, with more than 60% being seniors.”
- Be flexible with how you operate. Biggest learning curve – timing of production. Bill explained how he updated his daily procedures. “When I first started, I felt I needed to get everything done, packaged, and sliced before 7:30am. Liza and I came to the realization that people will wait or come back if a product wasn’t ready by opening time. If you have a quality product and they love it, they’ll always return.” Their quality also stems from using locally-grown ingredients (whenever possible).
Adding to their product line, The Golden Flour Bakery expanded into baking gluten-free products – which is very popular amongst locals and people travelling through the area. “We have a lot of customers come in because we offer gluten free items. Even though some are not gluten-free themselves, they come in for guests they’re hosting or other family members. Customers who have celiac disease are so happy with our bread because it’s healthy, tastes good, and holds together. We do carry them frozen because it makes it affordable for customers and stays fresh longer. We make sure it’s out of the oven and in the freezer within 4 hours.”
- “When you get help, you give help.” The bakery provide buns and showcase products to many youth in the Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake communities. During the school year, high school students receive everything out of the showcase for their breakfast program. In the summertime, local kids’ camps receive their baked goods. “You cannot send children to school or summer camp hungry and expect them to learn. This is how we ensure our younger residents are prepared for their day,” Liza said.
For Bill, providing product to children hits a personal note. “When I was younger, my mother could not afford to send me to camp. For local children, they are in similar or exact circumstances. It makes me feel good to give back to them and make a difference. When you get help, you give help.”
- Passion helps. Their passion for making meaningful experiences stems from personal memories working in a bakery. As a child, Liza would work for her grandmother at a restaurant where she completed all the baking. After high school, Liza went into baking fulltime. Bill’s passion shows through his products. Bill explained, “Getting up around 11pm to go to work is not easy unless you love what you’re doing. Our passion is our motivation to operate our business.”
- It’s worth investing and building a business in Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake. “Bill and I were never in it for the money,” Liza explained. “For us, we have a lot of experience and skills. We didn’t want to start a new job, while we could do something we are pretty good at and love doing.”
Why did they choose Creston Valley –Kootenay Lake as their home?
“Immediately when we drove into the Valley, we felt this is home.”
By: Laura Heykamp
Creston & District Economic Action Partnership Assistant
Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake Contact