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Macarons in Peril

February 24, 2013

Eaters don’t often get a chance like this one. Most times when a beloved business is struggling, their financial difficulties are kept under wraps until one day the doors are just closed. And often times people are left standing around saying, “I always meant to go there and try it out” or “I wish I had known so I could have made one last visit.”

I’m sad to report that TC Bakery is in such a fix, but all hope is not yet lost.

This is the small French bakery that’s been operating out of The Chocolate Gecko making a wide variety of delicious French macarons, my favorite being the chocolate caramel. But they also created a praline based on their own vanilla sugar and duchilly hazelnuts. It’s one of my favorite sweet treats, besting the chocolate covered hazelnuts I brought back from a patisserie in Paris. Many of the treats made at TC Bakery aren’t just “good for Albany” but they would be great anywhere.

Losing this culinary gem in Albany would really be a blow to the overall quality of food in the area. And their problems don’t stem from mismanagement or a lack of sales. No, as their recent campaign on indigogo states, “we are soon losing our current kitchen” and they are facing unexpectedly high relocation costs.

What follows is so more information, plus details on how you can help out.

Last week on Facebook the TC Bakery ran the following lengthy message that details how they have gotten into their current predicament, and what they have been doing to come up with a solution.

As many of you already know, we will soon be losing our kitchen space on 21 Colvin Avenue, in Albany. This kitchen has been a great way for us to grow our small business, and bring you a unique, high quality product line that remains focused on premium French baked goods and desserts (staying away from preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and ALWAYS using real butter). We are forever thankful that we have been able to use this kitchen for the past year.

With the loss of our kitchen space, we have been scrambling to find a new kitchen location and new retail space. We have been in negotiations to relocate since December 26th. We have been calling upon close friends and professional connections to assist us in our search of possibilities. (We thank everyone who has offered suggestions and assisted in this time)

We are now faced with a grave truth. The cost of relocating our bakery to a new kitchen and retail is simply beyond our budget. Our partners, and extended family have pooled funds together from all possible sources, and we are still a minimum of $9,000 short to make the move a reality.

The high costs of relocating include moving our large equipment, buying new equipment, shelving, display cases, electrical wiring in new kitchen, remodeling, staffing new positions (as we will now be open 7 days a week and must staff the kitchen and the retail), and many other expenses that put the cost of relocating beyond our current means.

It is with great hesitation, as asking for help is a very difficult and humbling experience – that we have finally decided to reach out to our friends, customers, and fellow entrepreneurs of Albany for assistance.

So they have started a campaign on indigogo to raise the $9,000. Like with kickstarter, there are perks for different contribution levels. At the $25 level you get a back of my favorite duchilly hazelnuts and a five pack of macarons. It has a retail value of $19.50. 

I see this as a real win-win.

As opposed to my sister’s kickstarter campaign from a whle back, this is set up as a “flexible-funding” scheme. Which means TC Bakery gets the money even if they don’t reach their goal. They have committed to fulfilling the benefactor perks regardless.

And I’m still holding out hope that TC Bakery can find some creative solution to their relocation problem as the word gets out about their situation.

Or we could share the news and try to get 360 people to donate $25. Actually, I’m not sure if they have that many duchilly hazelnuts. But there are other delicious perks at other higher and lower donation levels.

Plenty of people are strapped for cash these days. I understand. And some folks might think about donating to those who are hungry first before supporting those who bake French confections. I get that too.

But I ask for your consideration. Supporting small local business is important as well. And I have a vested interest in raising the bar for food in Albany. It would be a shame if one of the places that was doing that had to close its doors.

Here is the link to their indiegogo site. Please check it out. And if you want to help, please also help by spreading the word. Don’t miss out on your chance to try these things. Because soon they might be gone. The time is now.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2013 9:03 pm

    Can’t believe they’re not offering to ship any of the incentives… especially considering that they don’t have their own location (yet) and it’s hard enough to get to the Gecko with their awful hours. It’d be totally justifiable to, say, raise the dollar amounts of the incentive levels a bit to make up for the cost of shipping, but to not offer to ship at all, well, it’s going to be quite difficult for people to actually get those incentives in their hands.

    It’s a shame, ’cause this place does look good, but it seems like they’re doing everything they can business-wise to make themselves fail. First, they don’t buy any advertising, or appear at any farmers’ markets, or do anything to make people know that they exist, aside from winning you over and depending on you to give them free publicity. Now, they try to raise money but offer gifts in return that are needlessly hard to actually get.

    • February 24, 2013 10:40 pm

      Hello KB

      Thank you for your suggestion on offering shipping. Please understand that we struggled with what “perks” to offer, and how to offer them. We did not want to ask for something for nothing, or a simple hand out. We wanted to give a relatively similar value for each support donation. Kind of like, paying in advance to help us move. We too want to offer shipping and are currently working on adding some new perks. Because we are so small, we do not qualify for any significant discount rate for our shipping costs. For example: Shipping a 10 pack of our macarons to a New York state location is about $13.00. Shipping that same box to Nevada is over $38.00 (As we must use 1 day Air). We struggled with creating a perk that offers free shipping, when our shipping rates differ so greatly depending on destination. Please understand that we would love to ship our perks, and we are working on finding a solution to that. We will, however gladly ship any perk if the individual will cover shipping costs. Simply contact us on our website and we will be happy to work that out. Also, if you are in Albany – we offer the ability to make an appointment to come to The Gecko and pick up your perk.

      I am sorry that you believe we are making poor mistakes in our business plan and have set ourselves up for failure. Please understand that we have been a start up business on a shoe-string budget. The day we were able to hire our first staff member was a huge celebration/milestone for us. I too, wish there were funds to advertise, or to staff a farmers market. However, payroll comes at a high cost. I wont go on and on about that here, but please know that we have done our best. Certainly, we have made our own mistakes . . and there is always room for improvements.

      Thank you for your suggestions. We will be doing our best to resolve the issues you have brought up.

      Chef Paul

  2. February 24, 2013 11:27 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear it. I was thrilled to try some of their macarons finally (as we’ve been wanting too ever since we read your post) My husband brought some home for Valentine’s, and I have to say they were truly amazing, better even than the ones we ate in Paris! He did say it was hard to find so I can imagine word of mouth is difficult to go by. Trying out the farmer’s market though isn’t a bad idea, especially a year round one, it could be that having an off site bakery and selling only at the market is more fruitful and would keep costs down. Maybe rent is cheaper in Troy? We have some small fancy bakeries that seem to do well here. Here’s hoping all works out for them!!

  3. February 25, 2013 12:40 am

    First, I want to say thank you to FLB for sharing our story here. And thank you Reba, for your kind words about our French macarons. We are always happy to hear when customers enjoy our products.

    I also wanted to take a moment to share a little more information, for those viewers who do now know us well, or have not had the chance to interact with us (TC Staff) on a personal level:

    For the last year and a half, we have been baking inside of The Chocolate Gekco, at 21 Colvin Ave. Yes, this is a side road, of plain industrial style buildings, and yes The Gecko is very hard to spot as you drive by. However, they had a beautiful, large, clean kitchen and we could just about afford to share it. So, we moved in, on a shoe string budget and began baking.

    The TC owners/partners are all either (a) full time employees at other jobs, or (b) full time students with a full load of studies. To this day, none of whom have ever taken a paycheck or form of payment from the bakery. Everyone involved has given 110% since the very beginning, often sacrificing personal funds to keep the bakery doors open. Certainly we have all sacrificed our quality of life with the hectic schedules. We do this, because we believe that we are bringing something good to the community. We do this because it is a wonderful experience to meet our customers and hear about their recent trip to Paris, or their visit to Laduree (The French Macaron Boutique in NYC). Our customers mean the world to us – and they are the sole reason we keep pushing forward.

    A prime example is our hand made, from scratch croissants. By the time we calculated the labor cost to make them, ingredients, rent, insurance, utilities, commission to the landlord, and other fees . . . we made pennies on each sale of our croissants. Believe me, we had many meetings where we considered dropping croissants from our line up. It just wasn’t worth the work. But our customers loved them. Our croissants inspired stories from customers . . . about a small cafe in Paris, or a visit to France 30 years ago. We loved this about our customers. We opted to keep baking croissants. That is an example of what TC Bakery’s foundation is built on. It’s who we are.

    Certainly, we have had to make some hard decisions. Maybe we made good ones, or maybe we made bad ones. Do we continue to find super high quality ingredients that come at a premium cost? Or do we switch to buy lesser quality ingredients and keep our costs down? We opted to go to the moon and back to find the very best ingredients we could get our hands on. Do we advertise or do we get a new stove? We got the new stove. Do we buy some signs or do we get a freezer ? We got the freezer. Do we start paying ourselves, or do we hire an official employee? We hired an employee.

    I agree. We don’t always make the best “business” decisions. Instead, we make the decisions that make the best sense to be actual ‘people’. Even as we are faced with a financial crisis, I still bring in our one employee for a few hours a week, to do odd jobs like pre measure ingredients. Do we bring her in because we can not survive without her? No. It’s because it’s the right thing to do. She is a person, who relies on us to pay the bills. We do what we think is right.

    As the captain of the ship, I will make sure that everyone on board is safe and sound . . and I will go down with the ship, if needed – to make sure that everyone else (customers, staff, etc) is taken care of. That is what TC Bakery stands for.

    Under normal circumstances, we would be moving along just fine. We had been planning to eventually (later this year) relocate our business. We understood that the Colvin Ave location was very hard to make successful. Unfortunately, we are now forced to move sooner than we had planned for. This move is costly. After pooling all of our funds together, we are still approx $9,000 short to make a permanent move.

    As Daniel noted, we are still exploring other non-permanent alternatives to keep us afloat if we do not reach our goal. With a non-permanent solution, we still need to have a plan in place to relocate and rebuild in the near future. Non permanent solutions put our business at risk. We have learned a valuable lesson, having our business dictated by the success of the business we are sharing space with. We are still exploring all avenues. We have been working with other kitchens in the area, in hopes to re-enter a shared kitchen set up. With each possibility comes a world of running financial numbers and projections. Can we retail enough to pay rent and bills? Is the new location strong enough to drive sales on a no/low advertising budget?

    We don’t have the answers. We, too, have lots of questions. Please know that we truly analyze each and every possible scenario for our future. We will make every possible move to survive. We will make good on all of our perks, regardless. I will go down with the ship, and put our customers, staff, and other partners first.

    Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share a little bit more, about who we are and our current need to relocate. Thank you FLB for your efforts in making others aware. Thank you to each and every one of our customers. Thank you to all that have made an effort to support our indiegogo site. Thank you to everyone who wished they could help, but simply don’t have the means to.

    Finally, I agree with Daniel 100%. If it comes down to feeding the hungry or helping us relocate – Feed the hungry every time!


    Executive Chef, Paul
    TC Bakery

  4. March 8, 2013 6:31 pm

    Have you tried working with the NYS Small Business Development Center? They have an office in Albany and they can help you with your business plan – for free – no kidding. See

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