Cookie Lady already expanding business

By on January 9, 2019

A little more than a month after her first sale, Laura Merkel has grown her one-woman cookie business with the hiring of a full-time assistant, Lilly Furlow, and an upcoming move into a second storefront at 30 E. Main St. in downtown Ephrata.

We stopped by Laura the Cookie Lady’s shop on Friday afternoon to buy a peanut butter cookie and to talk about her plans for the expanded space.

After applying a new coat of paint and a few other cosmetic touches, she will move into the storefront adjoining her current location on Feb. 1. The added space will give more room for prep work &– mixing dough, for example — and storing supplies. It will also give Merkel a place to hold cookie decorating classes. While plans for classes are still fluid, she’s thinking about BYOB Saturday night classes, and Sunday classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced decorators. She said adult classes would last about two hours and maybe cost $35 per person. Child level classes might last ninety minutes at $20 a head. Merkel would show participants how to decorate the sugar cookies that are now an important part of her product line.

Isn’t she worried about training her possible competition? “Not really,” she said. “I’ll just be teaching them how to decorate. And maybe there’ll be a star student who can come to work and help out. Right now I’m the only decorator.”

Merkel didn’t go into detail, but there’s a lot more to a bakery business, obviously, than the finished product. Most importantly, any would-be competitor would need a passion for cookies. He or she would have to find a location, buy commercial baking equipment, come up with recipes, buy cookie cutters (Merkel has 3,000), develop a business plan, work brutal hours to make the plan come to life, etc., etc.

The decorating part? That’s just the icing on the cookie.

Dick Wanner is a staff reporterphotographer for the Ephrata Review. He can be reached at 


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