Support your local bakery on Valentine’s Day


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Support your local bakery on Valentine's Day

Support your local bakery on Valentine’s Day

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WILMINGTON, N.C. — Apple Annie’s Bake Shop is a community staple in Wilmington, but like many small businesses, it came as a surprise that the 2020 pandemic has slashed its profits and production.

what you need to know

  • The bakery was established in 1984 and has since expanded to two locations
  • Chief decorator spends 30+ Valentine’s Days behind bakery
  • Holidays always bring an increase in customers and revenue

They managed to persevere through the ensuing shutdown with enough local support to keep the hitters going, but Hans Westermark, the store’s chief decorator, said it was the most he’d experienced in his 30-year career at Apple. Tough months for Annie’s.

“When COVID first hit, we were down more than 70 percent, and we had a skeleton crew here who were just trying to keep things going,” Westmark said. “We were there long enough to not die.”

For a bakery of this size, the holidays are a moneymaker, and local customers make all the difference.

Valentine’s Day was an opportunity to make up some of their lost income during the pandemic, but they faced competition from grocery store bakeries.

One of Apple Annie’s finished cakes for Valentine’s Day.

“If you’re going to the grocery store for baked goods, they’re all from the same place,” Westermark said. “We’re making our stuff. If you were to make something at home from scratch, it would be equivalent.”

Ani Grigore, who has worked in the bakery since 2015, draws most of her experience from Apple Annie’s, but says bakeries like this are rare these days, not to mention that the pandemic has impacted sales now.

“A lot of the places I’m from, all the traditional bakeries are gone,” Grigor said. “They’re all closed, all closed. So you don’t find a place like this anymore. So I came here and found this place, and I feel like we have to keep it going.”

All the sweets on the Westmark Bakery bench are the product of his love and passion for decorating. He found his place at Apple Annie’s when he was still in high school, and every vacation was an opportunity to improve on the work he did last year.

“I was ready in January,” Westmark said. “We always think ahead.”

“Hans is really a genius when it comes to cakes, pastries and everything,” Grigor said.

A lot of things have changed for Apple Annie over the years, but in all his time at the store, the only constant is the men who run in at the last minute on Valentine’s Day to find delicious treats for their special someone.

Ani Grigore makes pastries for Valentine’s Day.

Luckily for them, they ended up in the right place, with the right people behind them, and they poured everything they had into their work — hopefully keeping Apple Annie going for another 40 years.

“It’s been Apple Annie since the first day they opened here, because that’s what the locals want,” Grigore said.

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