NEWTON – For Blacker’s Bakeshop, a nut-free, dairy-free kosher bakery in Newton known for its custom birthday cakes and various types of challah, the Covid-19 pandemic came at the worst time possible – just weeks before Passover, the bakery’s busiest time of the year.
The health crisis forced Blacker’s to immediately explore new options to sell their products. They decided to implement online ordering, and shipping of their baked goods. The changes have worked out well, and manager Rebecca Blacker attributes that to their customers.
While the loyal customers made the necessary adjustments to obtain their ruglach and babka, the shift to online ordering has attracted new customers. Before the pandemic, people would call in to place orders, but the bakery’s overhauled website has made online ordering easier for both Blacker’s and their customer base.
“It’s a whole new business,” Blacker said. “We had to figure out how we could sell a product that relies on visual shopping without the visual part.”
The demand for baked goods has remained steady, but new challenges have popped up. “Our employees couldn’t come in, so it was just me and my mom,” Blacker said. Her parents, Karen and Richard, are the owners of the bakery.
The bakery has a few employees who work part-time to help out in the back with shipping. As for bakers, they have one pastry baker at a time and no more than two bread bakers working the same shift.
This led to Blacker’s ramping up their social media presence. The bakery turned to Instagram as their new display case, posting pictures of their baked goods and menus to attract customers. “It’s a whole different way of thinking to get it back to where we were,” she said.
The bakery upped its social media presence by partnering with Blossom Bar, a restaurant in Brookline, which has been proficient in social media and has been helping some greater Boston food businesses with their online presence.
Blacker’s has been a positive hit in the greater Boston area. “We have offered a quality challah and other kosher goods that a lot of Newton and Brookline folks were looking for,” Blacker said. “When we bought the bakery, it wasn’t just about inheriting a kosher bakery. It was about showing the community that kosher food has quality taste.”
Yet, it’s not just the kosher aspect that attracts customers. According to Blacker, approximately half of its clientele have an allergy. She said that some children who are allergic to nuts have been overcome with emotion when they’re introduced to something they can actually eat that looks delicious.
While the kosher community remains local, the allergy customers come from far and wide. Blacker said a family comes down from Portland, Maine to stock up on goods for their child who is dangerously allergic to nuts.
But now with the shipping, customers are ordering from New York, New Jersey and other states including a couple shipments that went all the way to Florida.