Less than a year after it reopened as Bloom Bindery, the small cookie bakery, coffeehouse and bookstore in Middleton closed on Sunday.
According to Annemarie Maitri, owner of the Bindery, the shop is not closing due to bad news or slow sales. Running the Middleton shop and the Bloom Bake Shop cafe on Monroe Street left her little time to immerse herself in the vision for the Bindery, which is to promote literacy efforts in the area.
Maitri emphasized that everything that made up Bloom Bindery — the cookies, the ice cream, the partnership with Mystery to Me bookstore and a focus on literacy — will continue. All of the Middleton staff will be moving to the Monroe Street location, she said.
“The Bindery isn’t going away,” Maitri said.
Closing the Middleton location was a difficult decision, she said.
“I’m so excited because I feel so clear that this is where I’m going,” Maitri said. But “I stood in that space and just kind of mourned and cried and thanked it. I wouldn’t be where I am today without starting on that little street corner.”
Maitri started her business in the tiny Middleton location at 1834 Parmenter St. almost nine years ago. With breakfast sandwiches, catering for weddings and daily bakery production, the business grew exponentially and the space became too small.
Maitri opened a cafe location at 1851 Monroe St., but that left Maitri managing full bakery production and early-morning starts at two locations. She closed the Middleton shop in November for a chance to reevaluate the space and its use.
“Over the last year the world is showing me on every level that I need to slow down, focus my priorities on what really matters in my life, and take care of my health, happiness, and family,” Maitri wrote in a Facebook post explaining the decision.
In May, she announced that the Middleton location would re-open as Bloom Bindery, a for-profit company with a mission to promote a love of reading. A portion of cookie sales went to local literacy initiatives. Some of Bloom's literacy facets included book clubs using the space, families reading to each other in the shop, and the Bloom bus distributing 400 cookies alongside 400 books on the last day of school.
But aving two locations ate up her time, and didn’t allow Maitri to personally connect with the literacy efforts as much as she wanted.
“So much good is happening in that space but it’s really more personal,” she said. “It can’t just be about a percentage of the profits for me. It had to be more tangible.”
This all snapped into focus this Thanksgiving. Maitri was zooming back and forth between both shops and someone broke into her car and stole her computer and a week of cash sales from the Bindery.
“Here I am, running around like crazy,” she thought. “I can’t keep operating this way.”
In the future, she wants the literacy efforts to reach out to underserved populations. She plans to use the Bloom bus to meet and interact with other communities, perhaps by partnering with programs to offer cookies as an incentive for reading, or partnering with Madison Reading Project to distribute books and cookies side-by-side. She’s hoping to do pop-up dinners with the Literacy Network at the Monroe Street location.
“The sky’s the limit with it because (the bus) is mobile,” she said, but right now “there’s not enough hours in the day.”
Though it’s a major transition, Maitri feels good about her decision.
“I am beyond excited to move forward,” she said. “I think it’s time for someone else to dream in that space.”