| May 12, 2020
For many residents of Whistler, B.C., their daily bread arrives freshly baked from Natasha and Ed Tatton’s small, local business, Ed’s Bred. So, when COVID-19 forced ski hills to shut down early in Whistler this year, threatening the fledgling bakery’s survival, the co-founders’ first concern was for their customers.
“We’d only been open in our bricks-and-mortar store for a year, and we were facing being completely shut down due to COVID,” says Natasha Tatton. “Our customers were so concerned, asking, ‘Are we still going to be able to get bread?’ And they looked so upset. I just said, ‘Yes, we’re going to get your bread. We’ll figure out a way.’”
That was on a Sunday afternoon in mid-March. By Monday, the co-founders had a plan in motion. Ed’s Bred would, in a way, return to its roots. They decided that pivoting to an e-commerce model with a one-day-a-week pick-up was the best way forward.
Natasha Tatton possesses an almost innate understanding of hospitality and the importance of connecting with her client base. So, when she and co-founder Ed Tatton were pivoting their business to an online model, as many entrepreneurs are doing these days, she wanted to build a process that would be easy for their customers to navigate. They moved to Squarespace Commerce Advanced and created an online payment and booking system. They also decided that offering delivery would be too cost-prohibitive, so they created a contactless pick-up system instead.
Initially, Natasha was spending 20 hours a day trying to keep up with bookings, so she did some more research and contacted some companies in Silicon Valley. She found an angel programmer who helped the small bakery create an integrated purchase and pick-up scheduler that is getting rave reviews from users. Those rave reviews are, in turn, continuing to help build the bakery’s loyal customer base. Their dedicated focus on customer service even caught the eye of Forbes.com, which featured the bakery’s pivot strategy in an article at the end of March.
With a smooth, intuitive order and pick-up system in place, the Ed’s Bred owners also felt they could pay it forward and support some of their own local suppliers. Their online store offers products that complement their breads, like East Van Jam and pasta from InGrain Pastifico.
And for locals who have taken up “pandemic baking,” the online store also offers a variety of high-quality flours, as well as a selection of the best baking cookbooks around. Newbie bakers anywhere in the world can learn tips and techniques from the company’s popular Instagram account, where Ed demonstrates how to work with dough and also answers questions from their 30K+ followers.
If all this has piqued your taste buds, sadly, you’ll only get to savour one of the company’s loaves if you live in the Whistler area. One of the things that Ed’s Bred isn’t considering right now is creating a wider delivery system across the province or the country. Baking local, high-quality bread that is still warm when a customer picks it up is the cornerstone of their business model, and they are unwilling to undermine the quality of their products by scaling into a mass production model.
True to form, the founders are planning their business growth around a more organic model. Obviously, surviving during this crisis is top of mind, but Natasha and Ed continue to build their online presence through the goodwill of their local community, as well as through the wider international bread and vegan communities.
Ultimately, Ed and Natasha remain optimistic. “We all know that this will pass and there will be international travel resumed at some point. And we’re not going to just lay low until then,” says Natasha. “We’re still working to establish ourselves as a world-class bread shop that people will seek out from around the world. People go to California to visit Tartine or go overseas to visit the world-famous names. People will come to Whistler to ski, so why not be a destination bakery that they want to visit as well?”
To find out more about Ed’s Bred visit their website at edsbred.com
or follow them on Instagram