If you love pie and you visit, live in or just love northern Door County (specifically Fish Creek), then you already know about the Sweetie Pies Pie Shoppe located in the Settlement Shops, Highway 42, Fish Creek. Known far and wide for their flaky crust and mouthwatering flavors like Door County Cherry pie, caramel apple pie, triple berry and chocolate pecan (50 flavors in all), Sweetie Pies has become a tradition for Door County pie lovers since its beginning in 1995 when it was founded with the original recipes of baking artisan, Susan Croissant. Susan’s daughter Olivia Lowery remembers rolling crusts and filling the pies with her Mom when Olivia was 17 years old. Susan owned and lovingly operated the shop until 2003 when she remarried, sold the business (but not the real estate) and moved to the Appleton area.
Years passed and in 2008 Olivia decided she wanted to raise her daughter Lilly in a slower-paced environment and they decided to move back to Door County together. Olivia went to work at a popular Sister Bay restaurant, eventually meeting and falling in love with one of the main cooks, Chris Reichel. Once Olivia and Chris were committed to a future together, they talked a lot about what they wanted in their lives. They hoped to marry, have children and they dreamed of owning their own business.
About this same time, they learned of the availability of the Sweetie Pies business. Olivia knew her mother would work with her to acquire the real estate, but she felt she needed to learn a bit more before making the leap. With a great deal of support and encouragement from Chris, Olivia decided to take the Entrepreneur Training Program (ETP), co-sponsored by the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) and the UWGB Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in the winter of 2015-2016.
At the ETP class, she gained an understanding of basic business accounting and learned to write a business plan applicable to the small business that she hoped to own one day. According to Olivia, one of the biggest and most important advantages of taking this class was the connections she made. She connected with Chuck Brys of the SBDC who served as a mentor, consultant and sometimes Dad. “I’d call him when I was doubting myself and he’d talk me off the ledge” joked Olivia. “He also helped us decode the information we received from lenders, making things a great deal easier for us.” Olivia says that buying and running Sweetie Pies would not have been possible without this class and Chuck’s support and guidance.
Olivia and Chris had the vision and the drive to run a small business, but like many entrepreneurs, money was an issue. They chose the Bank of Luxemburg as their lender. Working with Bank of Luxemburg, the purchase of the real estate from Susan was made simple, and the then owners of the Sweetie Pies business sweetened the pot by offering Chris and Olivia extremely favorable Seller financing to acquire the business.
The happiest news is that Chris and Olivia are now expecting twins in October and their plans for the business are still firmly in place. They plan to keep the business growing at a steady pace, but never let it lose its charm. To Olivia and Chris, the most important part of their business brand is based in the charm factor, plus Sweetie Pie’s commitment to use simple, fresh ingredients and all her Mom’s original recipes in every pie they bake.
If you would like to learn more or sign up for the January 2018 Entrepreneurial Training Program, please contact Caleb Frostman at the DCEDC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-743-3113, ext. 203. If you have a business or business idea and would like to set up a business counseling session with a counselor from the SBDC (Usually the first Thursday of the month, 90 minutes in length, and FREE to you), please call Cindy Wick at 920-743-3113.