Follow up: Bread and Honey

bread and honey 2015 July exterior

Bread and Honey is in the commercial strip on Madison Ave between Quail and Ontario.

AOA is taking things a little easy this week for summer break. So we thought it'd be a good time to catch up with some local businesses we've covered during the last year (or so) and find out how things are going.

First up is Bread and Honey in Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood. Owner Naomi Davies opened the artisan bakery in March of 2014 after a major renovation of the storefront at 809 Madison Ave. She has a background in construction management (and dance before that), and consulting on the new Honest Weight location had sparked the idea of opening a bakery.

A quick clip from 15 months ago:

"I learned so much about retail and food, just being with people who really cared about what they did and how they did it," she said recently as we stood in the bakery space. "And getting to know how they work, I saw an opportunity for a bakery here in Albany that could provide good, fresh, artisan breads. And I was craving a great bagel."

We got a chance to catch up with her last week -- and it was some real talk about what's it like to run a small, local business.

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So, how have things gone since you opened?

It's been a roller coaster. Because I've had to learn retail. I've had to learn Albany. And I've learned a lot about baking (laughs). Wholesale. Farm markets. So, there's been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. And I think I'm leveling off.

Wholesaling is very good. Farm markets are good. Retail has been the biggest challenge, selling out of the bakery here at 809 Madison. I've learned that Thursdays through Sundays are busy days, which means I have a part-time business and full-time rent. So, I've had to continue to borrow from myself, which has to end this month. I can't subsidize the business any more and I'm really hoping that I'm on a real solid footing and I can start getting people through the door to buy retail. I have a few very, very loyal customers who I know come out of their way to buy here. I'm really grateful for that. But I need to make that more.

Recent press has really helped. Because it's tough for a small business to afford marketing. So recent press has really helped with people come in who say, "I live around the corner and didn't know you were here," for example.

Taxes are a tremendous challenge. Most commercial leases are what's called "triple net," so we're paying rent and schools taxes and property taxes. And just as I pull ahead as I am now, I know that school taxes are coming in September. And they're a fortune -- last year $4,200 just in school taxes, another $2000 in property taxes. As much as they need to be paid, I see no relief in the city of Albany.

So, as a I begin to pull ahead, I'm hit by the taxes. There's not state or local relief for businesses like this. I'm always somewhat annoyed when I hear the news about casinos and hi-tech companies. Yes, we need the hi-tech companies, I get that, but then there are the corner stores that get no relief whatsoever.

So, as a I begin to pull ahead, I'm hit by the taxes. There's not state or local relief for businesses like this. I'm always somewhat annoyed when I hear the news about casinos and hi-tech companies. Yes, we need the hi-tech companies, I get that, but then there are the corner stores that get no relief whatsoever. I have payroll taxes that are 7-10 percent on top of the payroll. I pay a legitimate payroll here. So I see all the taxes that come along with that.

It would be a marvelous thing if there were some relief for businesses that start up and invest, as I did, in the city. I knew those expenses were there, but the ability to get there and meet those expenses is a challenge.

What's something that you've learned as part of this experience that you wouldn't necessarily have expected?

The patterns of customers. I speak to other small businesses, like Brakes on Lark Street and Honest Weight, which isn't exactly a small business any longer, but I talk with other vendors -- and the market is unpredictable. I can do well one Thursday and terrible the next Thursday, for no apparent reason.

Weather keeps people at home. They'll come out in the snow, but nobody comes out when it rains. So I've become absolutely obsessed with the weather forecast because it affects the business. And I had no idea how strongly. It can mean the difference between five customers and 45 customers -- it's that dramatic a difference.

And then sometimes there's just no reason. Some days we're mobbed, and we're not prepared, and we don't know why. Thankfully, I hear it from other small businesses so I know it's just not my inability to judge or predict or project. So that's been a big one.

When someone orders a dozen bagels here, it's a big deal. The margins are low, so the volume is critical. So really, 3-4 days a week I have the volume that carries seven days a week. And what I need to do, and I'm not sure how, is to boost that. I'm trying to find a way to communicate with Saint Rose to develop a small business program, for good, quality, safe places that they can encourage, or at least tell students that they exist, to come to. Because the ones that discover this place do come back. And, of course, Saint Rose is a big economic driver.

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Naomi Davies (right) conferring with crew members Josh Nichols (left) and Rock Loftfield (center).

So, things like that. But I'm chief cook and bottle washer. So my time and ability to do that is stretched. I still work seven days a week, some part of the day. It might be two hours on a Sunday -- it's 14 hours almost every other day. I have a good crew, but I know I'm stretching them to the limit right now.

Looking for trained staff is also a challenge. I've gone from training absolutely everybody who walked through the door to now aiming for trained bakers that can come in and learn the way I do things, not learn from the ground up, how to scale and measure.

I'm hoping to have a big turnaround in September to take the bakery to the next level. But that is dependent upon some negotiations that I'm trying to have now with potential people that I can bring in, so we'll see how that goes.

Is there one particular frustration that you've faced that if you could just wipe that away, it would make a difference for you?

I think six months ago I'd have said staffing, finding good people that I can train and will stay. I've learned that Albany can be a very transient place -- it's sometimes a place that's a stepping stone for people coming from further north and west in the state to going somewhere else. So I've learned that Albany is transient -- that would have been my answer six months ago. Now, I'm hopefully stabilizing my staffing.

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Now, my answer would be getting to decision makers about policies, some incentives for small business like this, in the city of Albany. That would be my current hurdle that I'd love to know where do I go with that -- where's the voice.

Is there something that's happened to you, or some development, that's felt like a win?

I've got to say two wholesale customers that have been really loyal and constant, and very forgiving when I've had ups and downs -- Honest Weight Food Co-op really stands by their mission to support small, local business. They listen -- you know, they're demanding -- but they understand when there's a problem. And more recently Field Goods has become a big wholesale customer.

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It's volume like that that really helps me. So the wholesale and the farm markets I think I have a handle on. The Saturday Delmar farm market is fantastic. It's a retail window on a Saturday that I wouldn't otherwise have. And the Delmar customers are very loyal, too.

So those have been real wins, to be able to succeed at those two venues, has been tremendously big for me, because they're very demanding customers. They know their stuff! I will be interrogated for 10 minutes about what is in a loaf bread. And it's great, I love it. So that is really satisfying to know that I can answer where exactly my 12-grain mix comes from, what's in it. I love that. I love that I've succeeded in those venues with high demands.

So how to create that at the store here, that's my next big challenge, to bring that in through the front door.

What is next, what do you see happening?

What I'd like to see happen is for the word to spread. Because word of mouth, publicity, is great. That is a a catalyst. That engages people who then say, well, I've heard about this place, let's meet there on a Saturday morning. So to achieve more of that is huge, that's huge as a next step into August when the students return. And then to keep the locals coming in -- I think the locals tend to stay home when the school year beings (laughs). I need to encourage them to keep coming out and keep supporting the business as they do.

I'm very grateful for all the repeat customers. On any given day -- my register tracks all of this -- it's about 50-50, new customers and returning customers. So that is fantastic balance. So that's right, it just needs to go from 25 to 50 customers a day.

And my offerings need to step up a little bit. I'm hoping to bring in a person that will help me do that. Because I can't be the front end, it requires a different skill set up front. I'm hard working, baking away [in the back]. I think I need somebody to step up the retail offerings that would bring people in, do some special events, Friday night events, for example. That would help. And I'm hoping I can pull that off sometime in September.

Anything else?

If the plan to implement bicycle lanes on Madison Avenue were implemented, it would make a massive and instant difference to commercial business. Because right now Madison Ave is merely, it might as well be a highway, it's a blur. The bicycle lanes would slow down the traffic. It would encourage more people.

I already get customers that will bicycle up through the park and come here and bicycle back. If there were actual bicycle lanes, imagine what that would do. It would be an instant difference, I know it. And it would slow down the traffic in the morning, so people won't be gunning it down to their offices.

bread and honey 2015 storefront madison ave

So, I don't know where or how those decisions are made to prioritize capital expenditures. But I think one thing that's missing from the neighborhoods -- some neighborhoods have it, like on New Scotland there's a real sense of place on those few blocks of commercial from Quail up to Ontario. Mitigating the speed of the traffic going through here could create another great sense of place here. It could create the same things. So, I think whoever the decision makers are in prioritizing the planning should really look at where those commercial entities are that help create neighborhood and place. And where people can say, oh, I can safely walk out, let's get the bikes out.

A sense of having arrived somewhere is really, really important -- rather than just a place that you pass through. Just street furniture, put some bicycle racks out there, some benches.

I think it would be a really worthwhile investment. Because if there were small physical improvements, then the business owners will rise to the occasion and do what they can -- stay open late one night, join in 1st Friday. And then maybe people in the neighborhood might say, well, yeah, I can go over there and get my hair cut and a cup of coffee and drop off my dry cleaning, you know. Or while I'm doing my laundry I can go up and see what's happening over there.

So, creating a sense of place by having those bicycle lanes, slow down the traffic, get more people more choices of how they get here, it would be massive.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.

Update: Be sure to see Naomi Davies's follow-up comment below.

Find It

Bread and Honey
809 Madison Ave
Albany, NY 12208

Comments

"Because right now Madison Ave is merely, it might as well be a highway, it's a blur. The bicycle lanes would slow down the traffic. It would encourage more people." Amen.

Her retail business is bad because there is no consistency in her store. One day she'll have literally just three pieces of food in the display case (one bagel, one loaf of bread, one stredual, and then the next day, well, who knows. There is no consistency, and there is no consistency in price either. Plus, sometimes the air conditioning isn't on and it's very uncomfortable in her store.

Thankful for her openness about her experiences and observations.

A big problem these guys have is that their sign looks like crap. I lived a block away from this place and didn't realize it was a functioning business for months.

Why they would make a sign on a blotchy grey and red background that looks like it is old and worn down is beyond me.

Paul hit the nail on the head - the retail side of Bread and Honey suffers because of the quality of the retail experience. I've been charged many different amounts for something as simple as a bagel with cream cheese. I watched (via Square receipts) the price of a iced coffee creep up to unreasonable amounts over the first year in business. I've gone in and there has been almost nothing for sale. I've recommended their bagels to many friends who show up only to find no bagels... I've gone in and waited fifteen minutes for the staff to assemble two sandwiches - with no other customers in the store.

Almost all of this is the result of poorly trained staff and staff turnover, which Naomi points out was a problem in her first year of business and has recently stabilized. I really hope year two is more stable, because Bread and Honey still makes the best bagel in Albany, if you can stand the headache of getting one.

This a very frustrating article. I agree with the other commenter, her hours are not reliable, it takes a very long time for a simple bagel and cream cheese. And her prices are high, inconsistent, higher than than in Bklyn.
I understand the price point but its Albany in a middle class neighborhood, we are struggling to support her!

As the previous commenter noted, you can never guess what might be available. I also thought the prices were a bit eye watering. I went twice, haven’t been back.

She has to stop charging tax for things that are not supposed to be charged a tax for,and be a LOT FRIENDLIER, AND MORE GRACIOUS!
I brought a lot of friends into her store,and told tons of people! Do you think she was appreciative, or thanked me, BIG FAT NO! I am a property owner here, and do not want to hear blaring stereo noise, or smell exhaust from stalling cars because she thinks slow traffic is the answer to helping her retail business!
I go into a place like Prinzo's, or Gershon's ,and they do it correctly, THERE IS NO TAX ON A LOAF OF BREAD, OR A PLAIN BAGEL! I don't care what your accountant told you !

This was a fascinating and informative interview that shows the challenges of operating a small business, after the first flush of the promising opening. Clearly Naomi is working hard on a lot of levels to keep her business thriving and I love her products, which I generally buy at the Honest Weight. That said, I find her retail store the least satisfying element of her business plan, which she clearly realizes and hopes to turn around. Like Paul above, I've stopped by to find next to nothing to purchase (after having to find a place to park). How many times will a customer do that? Also, the store is dingy and drab and needs a face lift to be a place where anybody would want to hang out for a while. I wish B&H the best in this because I do think they bake the best bread in Albany.

I'm looking forward to the rest of this series and learning about the challenges of these fledgling businesses as they hunker down and hopefully survive and thrive and become lasting presences in the Capital District. We need these entrepreneurs. They are investing their time (like almost all their time except to sleep) and much of their money into us and we need to invest in them.

as someone who operates a micro-business within a business, I found this very interesting. I'm always impressed and amazed when someone in this area opens a small business, let alone one in the food industry. Albany is so fragmented, I think it's really hard to reach critical mass in one area, which makes getting regular income from foot traffic very difficult (and also one of the reasons I think Troy is geographically more hospitable to one place opening after another.) As someone who benefits from a great location I can offer some tips and insight (and sorry Naomi, a lot of this will be cold comfort to you) when you get the brilliant idea to open a COOL place like the one you went to when you were visiting Portland, ME/Baltimore/other smallish city:

-Make your store hours/info ridiculously accessible . BIG SIGN THAT SAYS OPEN. Post hours on door in BIG NUMBERS. People are (usually) driving by. Make it easy for them. Our business phone is on the side of our building. Hundreds of cars stop in front of it at a light. No brainer.

-Sidewalk/sandwich board signs might seem cheesy to you but they work.

-choose your location wisely. Don't squee at every empty store front and imagine your cute future tea room/bone marrow bar/fro yo shop. Is there a parking lot or ridiculously easy parking? see: fragmented neighborhoods, there isn't one main location for Albanians. People drive a lot.

-look at the neighbors. Can you benefit from a complementary business? If you are not a coffee place, being next to a coffee place is awesome. If you are a food place, being next to a Weight Watchers not so awesome. Up the street from me is a dog grooming shop and a wood floor installer. Odd bedfellows. (but they have a parking lot so that negates everything).

-Avoid Groupon/Living Social at all costs. Even if you are desperate. They will relieve you of money quicker than a wallet inspector. They will garner you nothing but coupon chasers (or, nothing. lots of times people don't even redeem them) Typically they won't do a promotion with you unless you discount 50%. So if you have a widget that's $50 you must offer it on Groupon for $25. of that, Groupon gets half. Still follow? So now you are selling your $50 widget for $12.50. We did it once and the return % for new customers was: 0%. Avoid at all costs. Because it will cost you.

-can't use Instragram and Facebook enough. For visual businesses (like food, florist, hair salon etc) you CANNOT post enough content.People LOVE content. Content is king. Constantly updated content is crack for people. Post, cross post, hashtag the sh*** out of things. Instagram gets you customers. Cost to you is free. Set up scheduled postings (I have no idea how to do that--ask some kid) . Remember: ABC (always be (posting) content). Those pesky few hours a night that you're sleeping? post content. Have a lot of inventory for no reason? Shout out on Facebook and do a flash promotion. Running out of things? Let people know. Tweet. Vine. whatever, Just blab/show the world you are there. It's exhausting but must be done.

I have to agree with Paul. I visited Bread & Honey not long after it opened and was quite favorably impressed -- the bread is great. On several subsequent visits I was unimpressed -- there was hardly anything set out for sale, and nothing that I wanted. So now I don't go at all. You'd think that in learning how to manage a retail bakery, one of the first "lessons" would be to have bread available for customers to purchase. It's a shame; both the location and the product have great potential.

I second what Paul says. I am intimately familiar with the challenges of running a retail bakery and I have never seen one so poorly managed. Production numbers are difficult to predict - especially with things that have such a short shelf life - but eventually they should become intuitive. Literally every time I have been to the shop they are out of nearly everything - and always out of whatever I wanted. This is one of the reasons I stopped making the trek

Their product always looks beautiful when I see it places - but the last baguette I had from them (about a year ago) was so truly awful (and made that day according to Naomi) - I no longer care to see if things have improved. I imagine that if she is now hiring qualified bakers - things are getting better.

She defends her products - a quality I admire - but in my experience, does so to a fault, choosing to ignore constructive criticism.

I love Bread and Honey and want to support it. That stretch of Madison needs help and I hope the city steps up.

It is hard with consistency and while I understand the challenges maintaining a small business, as a customer it is hard to come back when things so frequently change, whether it is product or hours.

The store was closed most (all?) summer last year, which really broke my habit of stopping in for coffee on the way to work. It wasn't until reading this that I realized it is open this summer. Stopping in means going a bit out of my way. If there's no guarantee it will be open, I'm less likely to do that.

Finally, the prices are very high. I believe that the quality is also very high and appreciate all the costs that go into maintaining a small business. But I paid over twice as much for a dozen bagels compared to Brueggers. Local business with quality goods might charge a premium. The community might pay a couple of extra dollars for a dozen bagels, but twice as much is tough on a regular basis. So I think of it as a luxury stop - once in awhile, just for a bite for myself. Not as a place to bring the family or buy in bulk.

I hope she succeeds and look forward to stopping in again soon.

I'm a baker, and I want other bakers to succeed, and am chagrined to see this story and realize it's 15 months since I promised myself I'd stop by her store.

Paul's comment echoes a couple of others I've heard/read and I would like to know if it's a fair assessment or if others have a more consistent/happier experience.

I'm 50 miles away but still have to kick myself in the butt and get down there for a bagel.

The parking is going to kill this business for me- I'm not within walking distance. Also- open EARLY- the time when I'd most like a bagel is when I'm driving to work, and 7:00 AM is when there is some possibility of finding parking.

Make sure your counter person knows how to slice a bagel instead of tearing it apart. Let the butter get SOFT- there is no excuse for having to hack chunks of butter off a cold stick and chunk them onto a bagel.

I agree with the above posts- get an OPEN sign that can be seen from a distance, and post your hours CLEARLY.

Fin the fish monger in Guilderland has been very successful and has a great product. They also sell in Delmar and at the farmers market at The Crossings in Colonie. May be she could follow their business model. Ask them questions.

I have to echo a lot of the sentiment here. Love her products, but frequently I have to rely on purchasing them at the Honest Weight Coop, because her retail location has been very hit or miss for me.

I stopped by one morning, with some time to kill before hopping on the bus and was impressed. A few weeks later, I tried to stop by for lunch, hoping to be able to support a local business. I get there and the place was closed with a note apologizing for the early closer due to some emergency. Fine, it happens, especially with small businesses that typically lean hard on family members to operate and if one leg in the stool gets hurt/sick, the other legs can't always support the business during an emergency. I stopped by again a month later for lunch and there was nothing. After these two hit or miss experiences, I gave up wasting time commuting back and forth by bus from uptown (where the options to support local are very limited). This was last fall, maybe things have changed, but she seems to be aware of this issue and many commenters have validated these sentiments.

Its a shame, because I love to support local, this is a neighborhood that can really use and most importantly, she does make some great stuff.

I miss my downstate bagels, and the promise of a great bagel in the Albany area is compelling. However, after hearing (reading) about the inconsistency in product offerings on Yelp and other sites, I have yet to make that visit. If B&H actively maintains a store website and a very active facebook/twitter/other social media presence and uses that presence (on a very frequent basis) to tell consumers what is fresh every day, what is still in stock, and what specials are being offered, that would make me far more likely to drive over, knowing that it won't be a waste of a trip.

Want your establishment to be a place where the college kids come to study? Perhaps the owner may want to find out how to get her business added to the list of local establishments that accept the UA's (and St. Rose) meal cards (students/parents pre-load the card with money -- like a debit card) as a form of payment (years ago when I was a student, UA's card was called "podium"). Students do not often carry cash, and usually hunt out local food places that accept their cards.

I have stopped in a few times. Twice they did not have the product I went into buy. The last time I went I was told they were getting ready to close so I was rushed to order and leave...... :( Also I agree with the signage, I am always squinting as driving by to see if it is open.

I agree with many comments. We try to frequent new establishments we learn about on food blogs. I was excited to think a new bakery with high end ingredients will be in Pine Hills which we pass through regularly. Never had trouble parking but whole paycheck bagels is not going to cut it in Albany. Maybe frequent buyer cards can help; free coffee with purchase of bagel and cream cheese; French farmhouse butter; very creative bagel and bread varieties but something has got to give!

@N: "If B&H actively maintains [...] a facebook/twitter/other social media presence and uses that presence [...] to tell consumers what is fresh every day [...] that would make me far more likely to drive over"

That is the case, she posts on her Insta daily: @breadandhoneyinc.

I really don't know how to state this as an observation as opposed to criticism, but I will try...

I went in to pick up a dozen bagels over the winter. The lady working the counter seemed angry at me for buying a dozen bagels. It made me laugh because it was such a strange experience.

In any event, the bagels were very good. But I haven't been back since as it is sort of out of the way for me.

@S, thanks, I should have specificed -- I did mean even *more* freqently than daily. I saw that she posts (at least on Facebook), and that's great, but I'd love to see updates throughout the day. From what I've seen, her posts tend to be about one specific product, such as scones at the Delmar market, but I also want to know about what's going to be in the storefront that day and what is left throughout the day. If I am looking for a bagel, and the social media post is only about a fruit galette or bread sent over to Honest Weight, that's not going to help me.

There may be multiple bagels when they open in the morning, but if I am hankering for one at lunch, will I know that she'll have them in stock? According to the reviews I've read, the answer may be no. When a business has inconsistent stock, frequent updates each day to assure a customer that when I arrive, the shelves won't be barren, would be great!

For the first time ever, a post from Bread and Honey appeared in my Facebook feed today. Having followed the page for months, I checked to see whether there had been regular posts and indeed she does post regularly. An unfortunate circumstance of Facebook choosing what to display. Since many of the comments suggest use of social media, I wanted to share that the store does exactly what has been suggested, but is clearly not being seen by too many people.

I also noted on the FB page that there is a weekend special of 6 bagels for $6. I don't know if that is a regular deal, but it does address some of the cost concerns, like the one I raised about the $35+ dozen bagels and tub cream cheese I had bought in November. .

A friend said she got some delicious bread from a "new" bakery near her but couldn't remember the name; frankly I never thought to ask her if it was from here. I've been passing this place for months and never thought it was open; the dreary sign and the frankly dingy look to the place made me think that it was another business that opened and failed. Maybe sandwich boards are cheesy and cliché, but at least they'd give an indication that there's something going on in there when people are driving past.

Today I learned that bakeries should have a live webcam feed pointed at their display cases.

There's a lot of constructive criticism here and I hope Davies is able to tease out the good and run with it. There's another takeaway here for customers, though. The common refrain is I had a not-so-positive experience and haven't been back. If you genuinely want to support local business, you need to speak up when these things happen, not just take your change and shuffle out quietly never to return. If you have legitimate criticism on something that can be improved, there are polite, constructive ways to voice that whether it's directly to the staff, in email, on social media, whatever. We're all part of the community after all, it's not like these places have a corporate HQ in Topeka and a customer service call center in Bangalore.

I almost feeling like I'm piling on here, but my experiences with the retail store haven't been positive, either.

I was another person who was very, very excited for this place to open (due in part to AOA's original story). I was looking forward to a bagel shop within walking distance.

But I found the store just very disappointing. Like others have said, there were a number of occasions where I stopped in and the shelves were sad and bare. It actually reminded me of those photos out of the USSR showing shops with just a single loaf of bread in stock. The bagel prices are (barring specials) just too high making them, at best, an occasional indulgence rather than a regular purchase.

I don't mind paying a bit more for quality, but there is a difference between expensive and simply overpriced and pointing out (as one employee did in a very patronizing voice), "BUT THEY'RE ARTISAN" doesn't cut it.

And the attitude of the counter staff has ranged from indifferent at best to just arrogant.

I do like their baguettes and other breads, but I buy them anywhere except the retail shop.

I want places like this to succeed and, hopefully, all of the comments made here can be seen as constructive criticism.

KMC, I agree. Even walking by in the afternoons I've thought this place had gone out of business. The sign looks like it was abandoned years ago. Maybe I'll try to stop in now that I know they're at least open, but from the other comments it doesn't seem like I'll have much luck.

Maybe calling ahead to ask about current product would help?

I went in to B&H yesterday after reading this thread and not having visited it for about six months b/c of the issues discussed above. I'm happy to report that there were many bagels & spreads to choose from, excellent coffee, and beautiful loaves and granola to buy. Maybe B&H is just hitting its stride.

IMO, it's worth paying another visit. Go early and often.

"Go early and often"

I would like to- but they open at 8:00 AM, and at that time I'm on my commute to Saratoga. If I want a bagel at 7:00 AM I need to go elsewhere.

I understand if it isn't in the cards to start baking at dawn, but she should consider it.

I'll give a visit this weekend & check the product.

Overpriced. Mediocre. Lack of selection . As much as I want to like this place, I just can't, which is sad because Albany could use a good bakery. Prices are very, very high - but also odd. A plain bagel is $1.50 but slap some cream cheese on it and it's $3.50. What is in that cream cheese to justify the $2 surcharge? Plus it's mediocre; nothing about the bagels stands out. If you want anything but bagels the selection is limited - a few meager scones behind the glass sit sadly next to granola bars. The scones themselves are $3.75 (!), and not very good.

It's impossible to not contrast this to similar and better places in Troy which are also somehow cheaper with more selection: Placid Baker, Psychedelicatesson and Nibble, Inc. When I walk into Placid Baker I'm greater by an amazing array of baked goods, reasonably priced made with skill that taste great. Nibble has established itself as a premiere doughnut shop with high quality doughnuts always fresh with creative flavors (plus they cost between $2-$3.50, cheaper than B&H's bad scones or bagels). Psychedelicatesson makes great bagels with a lot of selection and are less expensive than Bread and Honey.

Maybe B&H can get it together but I'm not going to hold my breath, and you should look elsewhere for your baked goods, too.

@greenguy: you have been to Placid Baker? Really? Man, you must be really lucky, BECAUSE THESE GUYS ARE ONLY OPEN TUESDAY TO FRIDAY 9AM to 3PM (SAT UNTIL... 2PM). 9AM! 3PM! HOW IS THAT EVEN WORKING? WHY? MORE UPPERCASE!

So yes, indeed, it actually *is* possible not to contrast a bakery in Albany to a bakery in Troy with great products but absurd hours...

I do like what PB has to offer though, you know, when I take a day off, and when the planets align. Not on a Sunday, I mean, that would be ridiculous, right? Who am I, trying to get a warm croissant and fresh bread for breakfast from a bakery on a Sunday morning, hahaha. *sigh*.

I used to live right around the block from this bakery. The signage was the biggest deal-breaker for me. The sign above the store looks tacky and cheap, and I could never see an open sign. So, I never went in. First impressions matter a lot for a business.

I'd like to thank All Over Albany for the article and would like to provide a few updates:

TAX is not charged on bread. There is a bill in NYS that excludes certain bread products from Sales Tax that is not part of the main Sales Tax regulations. Once this was confirmed over a year ago, tax was no longer charged on our loaves of bread, and any taxes that were collected before were sent to the State.
PRICES for bagels have been lowered 30% since I opened, once there was enough volume and demand. With the end of day and weekend 6 for $6 special, the discount is even greater.
HOURS are posted on the window, which have been long overdue. There is now an experienced and service oriented crew in the store, who make the café experience much different then when we first opened.
We once had a SANDWICH BOARD, but it blew down many times. However, they do work and I'm looking for one that will withstand gusty wind and rain.
We now have a neon OPEN SIGN that has helped the storefront, and chairs and tables outside have helped to increase visibility.
SELECTION of goods is being developed, and bagels remain our main offering at the café. More range of lunch sandwiches will be offered starting tomorrow.
SOCIAL MEDIA postings occur at least once a day, I'll make better use of them to announce what is on the menu and coming out of the oven.
LIVING SOCIAL vouchers have worked well for us, and have attracted local residents in the Albany area. This is a way for customers to come and try our bagels and coffee at a bargain price.

Many thanks again to All Over Albany, and to readers and past customers for taking the time to comment.

I want to thank Naomi for being so candid in this interview, and for sticking with it. Your products are great, and as a non-regular, but more-than-twice customer, I have witnessed the apparent difficulty with the retail side of things. However, in all honesty, things have only been getting better since I first stopped in over the winter. Bravo for all the great steps forward.

As a newer resident in Albany, I'm constantly toying with the idea of opening some sort of business here. I laughed when commenter Rebecca above cautioned against the urge to "squee at every empty storefront" we see. There are many, and I have a pipe dream for every single one of them. I will continue to squee, because I still get excited about Albany and it's possibilities, but Naomi's story will definitely help temper those daydreams into a more solid and researched business plan on my end.

So thank you, Naomi. I'll be sure to stop in for a bagel and a coffee once or twice this week :)

A couple of big pots of flowers outside the door would do a lot to improve the appearance of the place. And, as others have mentioned, the sign is not good and needs to be replaced.

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