PPP Loan Keeps Bakery Alive Through COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the foodservice industry particularly hard, causing many establishments to close permanently. Nearly 1.3 million businesses were approved for a PPP loan as of February 2021, according to the Journal of Accountancy. Bakery owner Mary Holzkopf is one of those recipients.

Holzkopf opened her Huntley, Illinois-based bakery, Blessed Little Kitchen in October 2019. For years, the mother of five had been baking delicious treats out of her home. Opening a commercial kitchen within a retail space was truly a dream realized.

Little did she know, her business would come to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

photo of Blessed Little Kitchen

In late February 2020, Holzkopf decided that it was best for her staff that they shut down for a few weeks until COVID passed to keep everyone safe. Much like everyone around the world, Holzkopf soon realized COVID was going to disrupt normal life for much longer than those few weeks.

Holzkopf leaned into her faith and prayed that her beloved bakery would be able to weather the storm. After her application for a PPP loan was denied, the future of Blessed Little Kitchen hung in the balance.

Thankfully, TimePayment assisted Holzkopf in being approved for a PPP loan. She was able to reopen her bakery and withstand the challenges the pandemic has brought.

Sandra Vanburen, Director of Strategic Business Development at TimePayment, approached Holzkopf to explain how a PPP loan could help her.

“Sandra put me in touch with TimePayment to see if they could help, and they did!” Holzkopf explains. The TimePayment representative pinpointed a part of the application had been filled out incorrectly. After making the corrections, Holzkopf was able to resubmit her application.

“At our core, our mission is to help business owners thrive. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on business owners worldwide. The food and beverage industry suffered greatly,” says VanBuren. “Being able to help business owners continue to live out their dreams, which allows them to give hardworking people job security and help strengthen their communities, highlight why what we do at TimePayment is so important. We are not simply in the business of equipment leasing, we are in the people business. We are honored to be able to be a small part of business owners’ success stories.”

“Knowing a valued community member who does so much outreach through her business was in jeopardy of losing the bakery she loved was heartbreaking,” says VanBuren. “I knew that TimePayment could help her navigate the PPP loan process. I’m glad she could secure the funds that allowed her to keep the lights on and have some breathing room.”

While the days of wondering if she would be able to reopen are behind her, the hardships Holzkopf endured before qualifying for a PPP loan are still fresh in her mind.

So many people spoke of employees not wanting to go back because they would rather not work and get unemployment, but that was not the case with my team,” says Holzkopf. “None of my staff members went on unemployment for those four months. They roughed it out so that I wouldn’t face higher unemployment rates if we were able to reopen.”

bakery owner that received ppp loan stands in bakery next to display case

In June of 2020, Holzkopf, filled with hope, opened her bakery’s doors. She had reduced hours and a staff of only her best friend to help her in the bakery, and her mother and husband to make deliveries. She submitted her first application for a PPP loan, hopeful that it would provide much-needed relief so that she could remain open for the remainder of the pandemic.

In hindsight, Holzkopf thinks her desire to run her business properly before moving into her retail space, prevented her from qualifying for the loan the first time around.

After having her second child, it was clear that her childcare costs would exceed her salary. She left her position and became a stay-at-home mom. She had always loved to bake, so to make a little extra cash she started a small bakery business out of her home after the birth of her fifth child.

“I wanted to do things right, so I registered as a business and did everything I needed to do to ensure I was operating legally,” Holzkopf explains. “In 2019, I operated on my own out of my home until moving into my retail space in October, at which time I hired staff and my operating costs of course increased. Because they averaged my payroll from all of 2019, not just for the time I was operating in my retail space with a full staff, I was denied the loan.”

This was devastating to Holzkopf, who did not know if she could keep things running without any financial assistance. Taking out a loan did not make sense. She was afraid her business would not survive, and she would be unable to repay that money.

COVID-19 caused the cost of goods to skyrocket. Holzkopf’s lean staff continued to work hard to stay afloat. She was thrilled when orders began to pick up in November 2020. Though the bakery was open 5 days a week, the future was still uncertain.

After re-submitting her application with the help of TimePayment, Holzkopf received her funds. She now lives in a place of hope for the future, instead of worry.

“I used to live hour by hour. Now I feel like we can relax a little. People are starting to celebrate life again. We are getting orders for wedding cakes. Our former brides are placing orders for treats for their baby showers. We still have limited hours, but we are open 5 days a week.”

Securing PPP loan funding has allowed Holzkopf to participate in the community outreach that defines the heart of her bakery.

Blessed Little Kitchen is so much more than a bakery, it is a beacon in the community.  Holzkopf currently has two special needs students from the local high school on staff that have the opportunity to work with her when their internships end.

“I have a special needs child. It is so important to me that special needs kids know they can do anything they want to regardless of their limitations,” Holzkopf explains. “While many businesses in our community participate in this program, I’m the only one that offers a paid internship. The others are all unpaid. I am proud of that, and I could not do it without the PPP loan.”

Holzkopf was able to fill 330 Easter baskets for local children this past April. She continues her monthly donations to local causes.

ppp loan recipient's daughter helps pack easter baskets for community

If you’re ever in the Chicagoland area, stop by Blessed Little Kitchen and grab one of Holzkopf’s famous cinnamon rolls. Thanks to the PPP loan, you will find Holzkopf and her friendly staff baking, fulfilling orders, and bringing hope to the community for years to come.

In these difficult times where we have all been challenged so greatly, keep in mind one of Holzkopf’s favorite quotes. “People are going to talk about you regardless of what you’re doing, so you may as well be doing good in the world”.