Gypsy Gourmet celebrates first anniversary

Owner Theresa Hamm said she makes everything in small batches to ensure freshness.

“I’d rather run out and have to bake more than have too much,” said Hamm as she sat in the lounge area of her corner store.

“Excuse the mess, we were bum rushed this morning,” Hamm said, gesturing to a nearly pristine yet welcoming area of tables and chairs. “We are very meticulous about keeping the area clean and sweeping up crumbs.”

Besides making scrumptious desserts – Gypsy Gourmet offers baking classes, sells supplies, Chaps ice cream, teas, candies and coffee.

At the end of each day, Hamm puts what didn’t sell in a “Last Chance” basket at a marked-down price.

“Some people shop it daily,” Hamm said. “It’s a win/win. Good for everyone.”

She said every baked good on her shelf is baked that morning or listed as day-old, something many bakeries don’t do.

Hamm puts a lot of thought into every aspect of her business. She keeps her website and Facebook page current, is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, buys supplies locally and supports local charities like Students for Teachers.

She even employs local home stager Bev Givens to keep the shop décor welcoming yet ever changing.

Such attention to detail seems to be paying off. Hamm said she gets at least two specialty cake orders per month off the website.

She supplies the rolls to local restaurants Two J’s Smokehouse and Lake Bistro, bakes special occasion and wedding cakes for the Ashlawn Grille and bakes all the pies and muffins sold at Fruit Hill Orchard.

“Local business owners have been very good to me and that helps – especially in the first year when they’ve recommended me to people,” she said.

Those relationships bear out Hamm’s philosophy, “If you want to keep your town in business, you keep your business in town.”

Hamm said she saw that message on a sign during a visit to Europe and determined to make it her own when she started the bakery.

Her clientele runs the gamut from toddlers to seniors and bikers to retired serviceman, Hamm said.

Several book clubs hold meetings at the store and others love to use the free Wifi connection.

Hamm said for some reason Fluvanna defies market predictions.

“We’re right next to Lake Monticello so we’re within five miles of 15,000 people to draw from yet it’s amazing to me how often places come and go,” Hamm said. “It’s not uncommon for someone to open a store or a restaurant and be out of business in six months.”

One of the reasons Gypsy Gourmet is attracting business, and not just locally but from Charlottesville, is her willingness to work with someone’s vision.

Hamm said someone from Charlottesville called her frantic at the last minute wanting a three-dimensional Tom and Jerry cake.

“They couldn’t find anyone in Charlottesville to make it,” Hamm said. “Either they priced it so high it wasn’t affordable or they simply said no, they couldn’t do it.”

Needless to say, Hamm did, and the client was thrilled with the results.

Hamm has made cakes in the form of a cowboy hat, a Yankees baseball cap, a swimming pool, a Snickers bar and a Coke can, just to name a few.

Hamm said her favorite thing is when customers come back and tell her the cake not only looked good, but tasted better.

“I had one customer – a brusque New Yorker – whose daughter ordered their anniversary cake for them,” she said. “He came back in and said, ‘I gotta tell you something. That was the best …cake I ever ate.’ That he felt compelled to come back and tell us they loved the product – that is so great.”

Hamm is always changing her offerings to lure in new customers, delight the existing ones and take advantage of locally grown produce.

Most recently Hamm started making Bundt cakes. Not the big, family sized ones, but mini-sizes; one is about the size of a donut, for $1.75 and the other is a small dessert size for $3.25.

“We make different flavors,” Hamm said. “We’ve had fresh lemon, zucchini with orange glaze and banana/white chocolate so far. People love them. They are very popular.”

Hamm hopes to become a household name in the area, just as Spudnuts and Chaps are in Charlottesville.

“Those are icons,” she said. “They are dependable. We want to be the family bakery; to be an established business here for 20 years.”

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