Recently, Wendy Rockcastle has seen a boost in business thanks to a new clientele: sugar lovers. Last month, the co-owner of Rockcastle Florist started subletting space in her Rochester, New York shop to Tammy DiCecca, owner of Special T Cakes and Desserts.
Rockcastle got the idea after meeting with her accountant, who casually mentioned that the baker was struggling to get much traffic given her location. “We had worked with her before and knew she had a good reputation,” Rockcastle said. The wheels started turning. She sent DiCecca a message saying, “I might have something for you…”
Last June, Rockcastle moved a lot of her staff to a centralized design center, which helps distribute arrangements between her two locations (Rochester and Canandaigua, New York). This freed up substantial square footage (roughly one-third of the total space) in her flagship retail shop — an area perfectly sized for a bakery.
DiCecca jumped at the opportunity to rent it. There, she sells a bounty of sweet treats including cannolis, specialty custom cakes, cookies, pies and cinnamon rolls.
Rockcastle Florist and Special T Cakes and Desserts are two separate entities, but the flower shop has reaped a lot of benefits through its new neighbor. In addition to rent money, Rockcastle has enjoyed increased foot traffic, easy access to tasty add-on options (she sells cupcakes and birthday cakes on her website) and extra revenue by delivering DiCecca’s desserts (her drivers coordinate this service with flower deliveries).
“Tammy’s fanbase is all over this section of town, so customers dropped down to their knees when they found out she was here,” Rockcastle said. “Our numbers have been up since she started here in November. It was a match made in heaven.”
Although the two businesses started with a lot of common customers, DiCecca has helped Rockcastle connect with even more people. “She introduced us to a local lifestyle reporter who now is ordering from and writing stories about our business,” Rockcastle said. “It’s been a huge win-win.”
Thinking of reaching out to another local business? Here are Rockcastle’s tips:
Do your research. Before finalizing the sublet with DiCecca, Rockcastle contemplated layouts to figure out how she could fit a bakery within her retail flower shop. If you want to have a food-perishable company bake or cook within your space, consult the Health Department to figure out what you might need to add or change to meet health codes and regulations.
Be selective with add-ons. Although DiCecca has plenty of scrumptious items, only a select few can be sold at a reasonable markup to work as add-ons for Rockcastle Florist orders. Rockcastle chose a pack of holiday cupcakes and birthday cakes because she could make a decent profit.
Look for the “right” partnership. Ask around your community to gauge which local businesses need to upgrade or change their shop location. Get involved and friendly with your retail neighbors, striking up a conversation about their dreams for the future. You might find that a baker, artisan, or beautician is willing to collaborate or even start fresh with a new space.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.