Adventures in real estate: “We bought the building that houses our little bakery”
Faith La Rocque, 38, and Chris Stopa, 47
He’s a baker; she’s an artist, Bloordale
Chris: I lived in London and New York for many years pursuing music and songwriting, and like a lot of other artists, I developed some alternative skills to pay the rent. I segued into baking after I helped my business partner with the carpentry for Bakerbots, our bakery on Delaware Avenue, which we started in 2011. I started Home Baking Company in 2014 in a leased space in Bloordale. It’s got a small coffee shop out front and a big kitchen. I’m not much of a marketing person, so I focused on getting the fundamentals right,
using a lot of my mom’s recipes.
Faith: I met Chris at the bakery in 2017. I lived around the corner and I used to come in all the time. I’d been coming for about a year when Chris asked if I wanted to get a coffee somewhere that wasn’t his bakery.
Chris: Faith is a visual artist, so she started helping with marketing, Instagram and making everything look great. We had built a local following, and things were going really well before Covid. Our sales in January and February were up from the year before.
Faith: Once Covid hit, we closed for a few days to try to work out what to do. The staff were scared and confused, and many of them left to stay with their families outside the city. Luckily, a lot of the business is takeout-oriented, so we moved all the baked goods to the front window. People could just point to what they wanted and we’d bring it out to them or take it to their car.
Chris: At the end of June, I got a text from our barista saying there was a guy out front putting up a for sale sign. The owner and I have a good relationship. He offered the place to me for $1.5 million. I’d never dealt with a figure even close to that.
Faith: But then we started to crunch the numbers. Because the bakery is the commercial tenant, it’s already paying a lot of the overhead, and there’s a three-bedroom apartment upstairs we could live in. Eventually, we agreed to just under $1.5 million and did the deal privately, with a closing date in November.
Chris: We had to sell our one-bedroom loft on Sorauren Avenue, which we did for $690,000.We’ll be a little bit stretched, but I believe in the business. Putting on my rose-tinted glasses for 2021, I’m hoping we can return to pre-pandemic levels of business. We can do every aspect of it, from baking the cakes to front of house to social media, so that gives me confidence. If everything else fails, I can still make a tray of cinnamon buns, and everything will be good.