UPDATE: According to their Facebook page, The Tremont Goodie Shop will have its Open House Saturday, Oct. 24, and it will officially re-open Monday, Oct. 26.

by Victoria Slater

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“And I was thinking that that’s all I want, to get it back to the way it was—
back to the original recipes, back to my dad’s original philosophy—

and that’s when it dawned on me that that’s what I wanted to call my business:
the “Original Goodie Shop.”

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There is no doubt that when one thinks of the Tremont Goodie Shop, a delicious image of the trademark canary yellow, smiley face cookies comes to mind. Happiness has been a major component of the bakery’s philosophy for years; even prior-owner Debbie Smith signs her emails with the delightful expression “all smiles.”

However, over the past few years smiles at the Goodie Shop seemed to have faded as pressures from the volatile economy have mounted. Ultimately, the entire town of Upper Arlington was shocked when news circulated that the Tremont Goodie Shop was closing over Labor Day weekend after 51 years of business.

Yet, hopes shall not be lost, as Smith has come to the rescue for the ailing bakery that Upper Arlington loves so dearly. Smith’s proposal to gain back success includes a revert back to the days in which she owned the shop with her father—when the philosophy of customer and employee importance was the primary goal. Join us as Smith discusses the growth of the Goodie Shop, its sudden turn for the worst, and the steps she has been taking to transform the bakery back to the way it should be- back to “all smiles.”

Q: How did the Tremont Goodie Shop come about?

SMITH: It started way back in about 1955 by a gentleman named Bill Wood, who started the bakery on Arlington Avenue, and he didn’t have enough space, and when the Tremont Center expanded in 1958, he moved the bakery in there. So it started in the Tremont Center in 1958. He was willing to sell it; he wanted to move South, and he sold it to my dad in October of 1967. It was a lot of years ago.

[laughter]

Q: Yeah, so has it been a family run business since then?

SMITH: It has. It’s been family owned ever since its inception. When my dad took it in ’67, I don’t know after 10 years or so, when my brother got out of he school, [my dad] partnered with my brother for awhile, and then when my brother went on to take another job, he asked me if I would like to come in and partner. I’d worked there since I was in high school, since ’71, so I took it over then with a partnership with my dad. My dad retired in ’93, and I took it over full time and full ownership until about 2006. I gave it to my sister and brother-in-law then because I needed to be able to care of my parents. They were aging and required a lot of my time, but I couldn’t keep everything together with [the Goodie Shop], plus my own house and three kids, and my parents. I just couldn’t do it all. I had to be able to move my parents out of our four bedroom house where we grew up, and move [them] into a retirement community, and then get the house together for sale, you know, clean it all out and all that. There was a lot on my plate and something had to give. So I gave [the shop] to [my sister and brother-in-law] hoping it would just stay in the family and, you know, just keep tradition going. Instead, it closed down early over Labor Day weekend [2009].

[My step-brother] didn’t call me ahead of time to tell me he was doing it. He didn’t call my mom either. It’s just we heard it from others saying, “I can’t believe the Goodie Shop closed over the weekend.” So we were rather shocked. I called trying to work things out. I wanted to keep the bakery going. I said that I’ll come back in, I would like to keep running it, if you’d just leave the equipment, you know, and I’ll help relieve your creditors. He owed people a lot of money, and I said I’d come back in and I’d try and help out where I could, and I tried to work out a proposal where I’d get some of the debt off of him. And he just said that he’d sell [the bakery] at the auction. He didn’t like my proposal, so that’s what I had to do.

Q: Oh, that’s really sad.

SMITH: Yeah, so family business, let’s just say, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t—and this time it didn’t. But, I’ve got two daughters that want to come back in, one is 22, one is 27, and they’re the next generation; they really want to come in. They’re on Facebook and Twitter and, you know, they want to get into more shipping and things like that. So, it’s a good thing that they’re going to be on board with me.

Q: What made the shop such a well-known place in Upper Arlington?

SMITH: Everybody’s sweet tooth, I think!

[Laughter]

I mean, it’s a fun place to visit, there’s a lot of tradition in there, a lot of ways you can change it up for the holidays. Everybody looked forward to the cut-out cookies, being decorated for the all the holidays. As time went on, especially, a lot of, well we’ll go back to the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, you know. A lot of moms stayed home and did the baking, but they’ve all joined the workforce, so they needed a good bakery, you know, to be able to fall back on for their cakes and cookies and pies and things. So that really kept the bakery going strong for over 50 years. And I think, just ’cause it’s fun. When you walk in the bakery—everybody enjoys going in there, you know, unlike if you had to go to the dentist.

[laughter]

Q: Yes.

[laughter]

So what really brought about the sudden close of the Goodie Shop?

SMITH: This is where the family owned business comes in, and I don’t want to have it written as a “family-feud” if you know what I mean. My brother-in-law said the economy, that the managers and owners of the shopping center didn’t want the bakery in there anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I called and talked to [the shopping center owner] the next day after the closing, the owners and the managers said that they want a bakery in there. They just wanted somebody to pay their rent, if you know what I’m saying. How long can you stay there and not pay your rent? So they wanted the bakery in there and they were thrilled that I waned to come back in, because, of course, I always pay my rent on time, too. But they wanted me to come back in and take it back over and start running it again. They realized, I mean the bakery is important to the community and even I didn’t realize how important until my daughter started the Facebook site. Have you been to it?

Q: Yeah, I’m a part of it.

SMITH: Yeah, the comments, the daily comments, I really enjoyed reading them. I mean all across the nation people are writing from different states that say, “When we come back to Columbus we’ll make sure we stop by the Goodie Shop.” So they’re on board, they want the bakery in there.

And as far as the economy, I think a lot of that is just managing your cost, managing your business correctly, you know. When things get tough, then the tough get going. You just have to just tighten your buckle—your belt buckle—and do what you need to do. Of course, you know, with the last 50 years, there’s been plenty of times when the economy has had a downturn, or there was a paper shortage or sugar shortage, or whatever. We made it through. You know, you hang in there, but it just didn’t work this time. So, I’m not scared of the economy. I see the public and how much they really want the bakery in there and, you know, if closing the doors means … You can’t say it was a good thing… But it sure raised public awareness. Wow, we missed this place, we really want it to be opened back up again and now we’re going to do it. So, I’m hoping by Halloween we’re up and running. We’re going to have a big party, a big grand opening party. Everybody is invited to our birthday party. So, it’ll be fun.

[Laughter]

Q: That’s exciting! So, was this going on for a long time—the economic pressures?

SMITH: I didn’t actually work at the bakery for the last couple years. I just couldn’t. I saw things the way they were going, and it hurt too much and I wasn’t being listened to anyway. I didn’t actually work there so, I don’t know. According to my brother-in-law, yes.

Q: Did the location of the store have anything to do with this? Or did it give you good business?

SMITH: Good business, good business. I mean, there’s easy parking, everyone around the city knows where it is. I think most people like the fact that at Tremont Center, most of the shops are owned and operated by small business owners. I almost feel like there’s a trend right now that people are turning the corner here, realizing that Hey, these individual owners, they help keep our economy going too. It’s not just the “big box” stores, you know, that maybe we do need to help support these people. And at the Tremont Center we have that. That’s where that sense of community comes in and its fun to see people, you know, they come in to get their goodies and they turn around and their neighbor or friend is coming in and they stop and chat for a minute and it’s all friendly. It really is.

Q: So everybody knows each other?

SMITH: They do. That’s Arlington. You live there, you know it. That’s how it is.

[Laughter]

Q: Yeah, I do. Do you think the re-opening of the shop will make your business better?

SMITH: Yes, yes. With my two daughters, knowing that we had this opportunity, we sat down and we got a business plan together. They are very creative. They’ve just got great ideas to come in there and bring some fresh air into the bakery. It’s going to be really fun. They’ve got some great ideas.

We’re not going to stray, though.

[Laughter]

I’ve created my own new business, a [limited liability company], and it’s going to be the “Original Goodie Shop,” because I want to go back to the original philosophy of my dad’s on how to treat customers and how to treat employees, and the original quality, the original recipes. We’re going all back to the original way that it should be. And I was thinking that that’s all I want, to get it back to the way it was, back to the original recipes, back to my dad’s original philosophy. And that’s when it dawned on me that that’s what I wanted to call my business: the “Original Goodie Shop.” So, we may be known as that. I’m in the middle of forming the business now with my attorney.

Q: So what steps have you been taking to reopen the Goodie Shop?

SMITH: Besides laying out a plan, talking to all my suppliers to make sure that there are no problems there with—we’ll call it the “pipe lines” for all my flour and sugar and everything I’m used to having. I’ve talked to all my suppliers and especially talking to the manager of the [Tremont] Center that they’ll find a new lease with me so I can stay in that spot. So far, so good. Last step was that auction, to get the things that I need to be able to open the doors as quickly as possible.

Q: What are your future plans and goals?

SMITH: Reopening and employing the people who lost their jobs. I have at least a dozen people. We have probably 20 people who at a time worked at the bakery, and many have left over the years, and some stuck it out all the way to the end. The ones who stuck it out all the way to the end are coming back and all the ones who left over the years, the last three years I’d say, are coming back also. I’m calling it the dream team. I’m real excited about having this perfect team back together again. They work well; we’re friends. It’s work, but it’s fun work. It’s a happy place to be. I can’t wait to be back together. It’s like a family reunion, especially when we open the doors and customers come back in. It’ll be fun.