Interns get taste of bakery business

Wave Hill Breads Bakery & Café, founded in Wilton in 2005, and now in Norwalk, accepted the three of us as interns from Wilton High School’s senior internship program, which runs for the last five weeks of our high school career and helps introduce us to local work environments. The purpose is to contribute to and learn from the sponsors. We walked into the café bakery on High Street not knowing much about sales, marketing, or even bread for that matter (except for Amelie who is French), but a few weeks of experience later and we were no longer novices.

We were mainly deployed to do demos in stores, but we also worked in the café, observed the bakers and chefs, bagged and labeled JUST CRUST chips, went on delivery routes early in the morning, and were even included in an olive oil tasting and information session with Joe Bruno, owner of Pasta Nostra in South Norwalk. (Wave Hill Breads sells local artisan products as well as olive oil imported by Mr. Bruno from Italy and Tom Doukas from Greece.)

In addition to sales and bread production, we discussed marketing and business development with the owners, Margaret Sapir and Mitch Rapoport. We liked their idea of giving teachers gift certificates to their café or their products at farmers’ markets. After all, their café is not on a main street so they need ways to tell people about it. Most of the new business is from referrals among friends since the food is great. They won Best Café/Bistro on the Gold Coast from Moffly Media!

Our first experience in the game of sales dealt with sampling the breads at local markets that are new to Wave Hill Breads.

“Sampling really helped me get over my shyness and realize how hard, yet rewarding, it is to entice strangers to taste a loaf,” Amelie said. “When they see how delicious it is, they often buy it. But the clientele changes from store to store.”

Experiences in the stores differ from Ridgefield where the French country demi-baguettes sell themselves, to the store on Connecticut Avenue in Norwalk where the demo person makes a huge difference. We have been busy as Wave Hill Breads now delivers to more than 40 retail stores from White Plains to New Haven.

If you come by one of the markets you may be lucky enough to see one of us. After weeks of interning and receiving all the bread we can eat, we can’t get enough of Wave Hill Breads.