Pandemic Baking Boom Keeping Freeport Flour Mill Busy
FREEPORT -- Flour and other baking supplies are in high demand amid Minnesota's stay at home order to curb the spread of the coronavirus .
Out in Freeport, Swany White Flour has remained busy meeting the in-store and online demand for a wide variety of products.
“It’s a new busy,” said Sharon Thelen, wife of owner/operator Gary Thelen."We’re learning a lot with the online orders; we’ve got to have everything ready and on the shelf."
A major difference, Thelen says, is the average size of a flour order.
"(Gary) is used to packing up 25 or 50 lbs., slapping it on a pallet and sending it out the door," Thelen said. "Now, we’re doing more 5-10 lb. orders. Obviously, like everyone else, we’ve lost some big accounts – businesses that I’m sure deliver to bakeries and restaurants."
Thelen says white flour is their biggest seller, and has been throughout the pandemic. She's noticed that customers are branching out to whole wheat and rye, along with bread mixes and other specialty products.
“I had a young man in this morning, and he said, ‘I’m going to try to revive my mom’s recipe, but I just don’t know how it’s going to go,” Thelen said. “And I said, yeah, the recipe is only half of it. Bakers – they understand the consistency. They know how it’s supposed to feel, and how much flour it takes to get it just right. That takes some practice.”
With the demand for Swany White flour remaining high, Thelen says they haven't even considered reducing store hours.
“In fact, we’re open more," she explained. "We typically close from 1-2 p.m. for lunch, but I’m positive my husband hasn’t had lunch in – well, we’re looking at a month right now. “
Thelen says it's been a pleasure to chat with customers, old and new, and hear about what they plan to whip up in the kitchen.
“With kids being home, you know, there’s a lot of that cookie-baking going on,” she said. “That’s a plus, with all the bad we’re going through. We’ve met some amazing people. Everyone is so friendly, and you know, we’re all just kind of in the same boat right now.”
Visit Swany White Flour on Facebook to learn more.