Mike Konz, Kearney Hub
KEARNEY — Ktown Cakery has made a big move, one that’s greatly expanded its floor space.
Formerly located at 2300 Central Ave. in Downtown Kearney: The Bricks, the business now is at 2206 Central Ave. in the building that had been occupied by Self Service Furniture.
Ktown Cakery owner Kari Printz and her husband Matt purchased the building and are calling it The Mercantile on Central Ave., or “The Merc,” for short.
The property gives them additional baking and food prep space, and the sales floor is approximately five times what it was in the former location.
Ktown customers still can sit with friends or family to enjoy a delicious pastry, but the bakery has branched into retail and offers an assortment of cookware and food products. Printz said she intends to stock more merchandise and soon will attend a market to see what other products might broaden Ktown’s selection.
Crane River Theater is leasing The Merc’s second floor for rehearsal space.
Kari Printz purchased K-town Cakes in 2018. She said she’s learned a number of lessons in the past three years. None of those lessons have been more profound than what she learned weathering the coronavirus pandemic.
“We embraced COVID head on,” she said. That meant wrapping pastries individually and re-thinking many steps from the oven to customers’ tables. Emphasizing health and safety and reinforcing the importance of customer service seem to have served her business well in the pandemic, Printz said. “We had to adjust, but we did well. I saw customers who wanted to support our local business.”
She said service has been key during the past three years as Ktown Cakery established its base of customers. She said if a busy mom is planning a birthday party for her child and messages Ktown on Facebook in the evening, then she follows that lead and helps the customer plan the party in her own way.
When Printz bought the bakery in November 2018, Ktown had two employees. There now are eight. She said she hopes that working at Ktown is a life-changing experience and that it would thrill her if any of her employees expressed an interest in owning the business.
“It means a ton to me to make a difference in someone’s life, to be a place where people want to come to work,” she said.
Feeling the community’s support during the past 18 months has reinforced Printz’s belief in small towns and locally owned businesses, she said.
In addition to branching into retail, Ktown has broadened its pastry selection by adding pies, pretzels, scones and savory items.
Ktown Cakery is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays.