Mesa cookie shop back to ‘surprising’ customers The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa cookie shop back to ‘surprising’ customers

Mesa cookie shop back to  ‘surprising’ customers

By Mairany Garcia
Tribune Contributor

Heather Smith’s downtown Mesa bakery surprises some customers.

Her Smitholator Cookie Shop sells no baked goods except cookies.

“People are really surprised by that when they come in like, ‘Oh, just cookies?’” Smith said. “Our business is based on everything cookies,”

Smitholator boasts of its hand-decorated cookies for gifts and special occasions, do-it-yourself cookie kits and cookie-decorating workshops and classes.

After a long hiatus as a result of the pandemic-driven business shutdown, Smith is back surprising customers.

Like many businesses in Mesa, she was forced to announce last March that she was closing her doors temporarily for “the safety of our customers, cooperating with the community we serve and contributing to the wellbeing of our families.”

“It was the first time in the history of the business where I had negative cash flow,” Smith recalled.

Smith had to cancel large orders and refund money to customers who had reserved a spot in her cookie decorating workshops and classes –  money that accounted for about 16 percent of her business.

“It got to the point where I was telling customers it’s first come first serve on refund requests,” she said.

Customers are now returning for cookies and workshops after Simotholator reopened, thanks to some help from the City of Mesa.

Although Smitholator was not eligible for grants the city provided many businesses with its federal pandemic relief money, Smith has taken advantage of the technical assistance the city provides through its partnership with the Tempe marketing company Hownd. 

Hownd’s marketing service pushes promotions aimed at driving foot traffic to pandemic-beleaguered businesses like Smitholator.

Smith said it helps her manage the data collection that comes to her from Hownd’s website and e-commerce from her online site. 

She also said Mesa’s own promotions of downtown helped – particularly the city’s al fresco program that encourages restaurants to expand their outdoor patios by helping them with permits and reimbursement for furniture and equipment.

“But beyond that,” she added, “I think there is a lot of cooperative advertising that happens organically on social media and with other businesses lifting each other up.”

As an example, Smith said she receives some requests for vegan, gluten free and organic pastries. Because she only makes a handful of cookie styles, she refers those customers to The Nile Coffee Shop, a two-minute walk from her store.

“There is a lot of passion and willingness for people to be creative and create and collaborate,” Smith said.

“If someone goes to the taco shop across the way, somebody at the taco shop says ‘Hey you got to check out Smithilator cookie shop,’ and I’ll say ‘Hey you got to check out Moondust Farms.’ Then they’re excited if they hear that we know these people personally and they get that warm, small-town feel.”

Smitholator prides itself on cookies made from scratch.

She and her husband Travis say they started the business “inspired by our moms, grand moms and aunties who made celebrating special occasions and individuals a priority no matter the circumstances or means.”

Their business’ name comes from their “sincere interest in all things vintage and a special fondness for mid-century kitchen gadgetry.” In their case, it was a 1950s gadget called the “Toast-O-Lator,” which they describe as “the coolest toaster on the planet.”

Information: and 480-969-5816.

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