| Danielle Eaton
SPRINGFIELD – After a little under a year in their downtown Springfield location, Hot Oven Cookies will be closing the doors to their Main Street storefront.
Owner, Sheila Coon, told Reminder Publishing the closure is due to a “variety of reasons beyond their control.” Additionally, they will not be opening an Agawam location as originally planned. This too, Coon said, was beyond her control.
While the community will miss their gourmet cookies being a short walk or drive away, Hot Oven Cookies is far from closing up shop for good.
Coon said though there won’t be a storefront in Hampden County, they have confirmed two new store openings by the end of the year. The first location that will be opening is in the Hampshire Mall in Hadley. She said they decided to open a shop at the mall because of the growth happening within the town recently.
“We’re really attracted to Hadley, where the Hampshire Mall is located because of the growth it’s going through right now. Hot Table just opened up over there, they opened up right across from the mall. And L.L. Bean opened up,” Coon explained. Another draw for them to open a shop at the Hampshire Mall, she said, was the location to several colleges.
“And of course there’s the tie in to UMass, Hampshire College, and Amherst. And we just did a huge event for Hampshire college on Friday night, so they’re already like showing their support,” she told Reminder Publishing. “So even though people are concerned that malls are dying out for us, it’s more about location and accessibility to those demographics because we can use delivery services.”
The Hampshire Mall location is expected to open Dec. 1 and, unlike the Springfield location, will be open seven days a week.
Coon said another location will also be opening in the Windsor Locks, CT area in early January as well. However, due to details not yet being finalized she was unable to share the exact location and opening date.
However, Coon doesn’t plan on stopping there. She said the plan is to open at least three more shops by the end of next year. In fact she said they’re “in talks with Northampton” to figure out where they would “fit in the scheme of things.”
“I’m kind of drawn to Florence because it’s cheaper rent. So I’m drawn to the cheaper rent that we could find in Florence, and the smaller town feel,” she said. “But again, the proximity to Northampton via car, bus, whatever and ability to deliver because Smith College is there, we do a lot of work with them.”
She said she’s also been offered a spot at the West Farms Mall in CT, to open a location in Franklin County, she’s interviewing for a program in Boston, and was offered a location at a New York Mall owned by the Pyramid Group who also owns the Hampshire Mall.
“The Pyramid Group offered us a location at the Crossgates Mall in New York. So my husband is from upstate New York, he went to SUNY Albany and that’s the mall of the region, it’s a huge mall,” she explained. “So that’s not outside of what we’re thinking about. We have a way to make it work out there if that’s what we wanted.”
Additionally, she said the plan is to buy a branded kiosk that would allow them to set up at a variety of locations such as convention centers, farmers markets, airports and even highway rest stops without it feeling like a “bake sale table.”
The next move after that, or “the bolder move” as she called it, would be to buy a drive through unit. “It’s reminiscent of Mt. Tom Coffee. I’ve been watching this market for a while, and it’s mostly been coffee shops,” she said. “There’s one famous donut place, called Stan’s Donuts. They’ve been around for a long time, and they have drive through unit. It’s a unit that you can walk up to to order, or you can drive through.”
She said she knew it would be a good idea after talking to customers that came to the Springfield location and had to park several blocks away. At this point, she noted, they’re still doing research, but they’re “definitely going to purchase the unit by the end of next year.”
Coon said that while they want to go national with the company, Western Massachusetts is going to be the “home base.” “Most of my children are over here, my family’s here, so this is where we want to be,” she said.