Schuetz, owner of Tricia’s Bake Shop, with her freshly
baked cookies that will be sold at a farmers market.
— After licensing fees, business insurance, hourly commercial
kitchen rental, ingredients and farmers market costs, it’s tough
for small-scale bakers in Wisconsin to rake in enough dough to
a handful of state lawmakers have introduced the “Cookie Bill”
to lessen the financial burden by eliminating mandatory licenses
— which require bakers to use a commercial kitchen and pay
annual fees — for bakers grossing less than $25,000 per year.
Schuetz, owner of Tricia’s Bake Shop, has fostered a passion for
baking since she was a child, working in her grandparents’
Chicago bakery. Even after the bakery closed, she and her siblings
would bake several pounds of cookies at home and give them to
family and friends, she said.
finally decided to take the plunge and start her own baking
operation last year, but said there’s an overhead in Wisconsin
she doesn’t want to pay.
and New Jersey are the last two states with a ban on homemade
baked goods that requires bakers without a storefront to rent a
space in a commercial kitchen and subjects all of them to annual
said she has only a “farmers market customer base” at this
point, so the litany of fees on top of driving 20 minutes to a
commercial kitchen in Dousman with a carload of her ingredients
and paying $15 per hour to bake is wearing on her.
business end is new to me,” she said. “It’s been difficult
with all the start-up costs. To add another cost on top of
everything else for a license to bake is just ludicrous.”
including ingredients, the monthly cost of operating Tricia’s
Bake Shop is between $400 and $500, she said, which takes a lot of
cookies to break even.
“Cookie Bill” passed a Senate vote earlier this week and will
head to the Assembly, where it has bipartisan support. But if two
nearly identical bills proposed in past years are any indication,
it’s still unlikely to pass — or even get a vote.
bill passed the Senate twice before, but did not come up for a
vote on the Assembly floor, where it was likely to pass. Assembly
Speaker Robin Vos, RRochester twice, hasn’t scheduled the bill
for a vote because it “creates an unequal playing field,” said
Kit Beyer, Vos’ communications director.
after a Lafayette County
ruled the current homemade baked goods ban unconstitutional last
month, Vos introduced another bill — the Bakery Freedom Act —
that eliminates licenses for all bakers and would bring “current
law in line with the new ruling,” according to a memorandum from
his office. It’s unclear if Vos’ bill would allow sales of
himself is a small-business owner, of Rojo’s Popcorn in
Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, and Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha,
said they weren’t familiar with either of the proposed bills and
hadn’t yet decided how they would vote.
space to bake
bakers without storefronts would still opt to use commercial
kitchens if the cookie bill passes, like Amber Yelk, owner of
I get wedding dessert orders for 280 cupcakes and cheesebake balls
that I just don’t have space to make in my kitchen,” she said.
the elimination of license requirements would be a huge weight off
her, Yelk said.
licensing aspect of the business always scared me. I even
postponed starting while I figured all of that out,” she
Knudson, owner of Pop’s Kettle Corn, has a storefront in Muskego
and rents his kitchen to fledgling bakers who need a space. He
said he knows how hard it is to find a commercial kitchen that
don’t charge a pretty penny, so he only charges for utilities to
eliminate unnecessary “monetary blocks” for Wisconsin bakers.