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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Made With Love Bakery is her dream: ‘I hope that I can be a blessing to the neighborhood,’ owner Callie Johnson says

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 24, 2019, 5:30 p.m.

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Made With Love Bakery sits in a small storefront on a quiet residential street in West Central where owner Callie Johnson makes her popular pop tarts, muffins, scones and pies.

Pam Pooley stopped in just before closing one day last week in search of something sweet. “I’ve picked up her things at Tom Sawyer Coffee,” she said.

However, Pooley’s end-of-the-day visit meant that Johnson was sold out of many things. Pooley picked out a pecan pie bar to take home. She lives on the South Hill, but that hasn’t stopped her from making the trek to Johnson’s shop half a dozen times.

“It’s just the best quality,” Pooley said. “She makes the best pecan pie bars. Everything I’ve had has been excellent.”

Made With Love Bakery opened June 29, but Johnson has been baking out of the shop’s commercial kitchen since January. She sells her goods through the Indaba Coffee locations, as well as at Vessel, Tom Sawyer Coffee and Pathfinder Café. During the summer, she also sells her goods at the Emerson-Garfield and Perry Street farmers markets.

The bakery has a homey feel, with comfortable seating and splashes of color. A sign that says “Hello you lovely people” sits on a shelf next to a photo of Johnson holding a mixing bowl and spoon as a young child. Johnson thinks she was 2 or 3 years old when the photo was taken in her mother’s kitchen.

“I have been baking as long as I can remember,” she said. “That’s just what we loved to do is bake together. We’d share it with different people, and that was fun.”

Johnson’s family moved to Spokane when she was 7, and she and her mother would bake treats for her grandfather, who lived in Sunshine Gardens. They’d also bring sweets for the other residents and staff and would bake a cake when a staff member had a birthday.

Some children are certain about what they want to be when they grow up, and Johnson knew she wanted to be a baker. “In sixth grade, I wanted to figure out what I would do with my life because I’m a planner,” she said. “I just thought, ‘I’m going to open a bakery.’ ”

After high school, she attended Gonzaga University to study business, working two jobs to pay her way. “I felt confident in the baking, but not so much the business side of things,” she said.

She graduated in 2015 and immediately formed an LLC and got to work. She got her home kitchen certified so she could sell at farmers markets and fill special orders through her website mwlbakery.com. She started out at the Emerson-Garfield market, then added the Perry Street market last year.

Along the way, Johnson was nearly sidetracked from her dream. “I was offered a really good job, Monday through Friday, with benefits,” she said. “It would be so much easier.”

She thought about it but decided to stick with her dream. “I think, at the end of the day, I’d regret it if I didn’t try it,” she said. “If I fail, I fail. At least you would know you tried.”

She credits her friends and family with supporting her decision to make her dream come true. “They believed in me,” she said. “It made it feel like this was possible.”

Last year Johnson decided to create wholesale accounts with local coffee shops, but she needed a commercial kitchen to do that. She heard through a friend about a woman who needed someone to take over the lease of a building at 2023 W. Dean Ave. with a commercial kitchen inside. She was sold.

Johnson said she loves the neighborhood. “It’s been really wonderful here,” she said. “The neighbors are so kind and supportive and come in often.”

Johnson said she had always wanted to open her bakery in a lower-income neighborhood. Her late grandparents, Earl and Becky Gregg, lived in a low-income area in Airway Heights for many years. They had a large garage where they stored everything, from furniture to freezers stocked with food, and people knew to come to them if they were in a tough spot, Johnson said.

“That legacy of caring for others and being hospitable has really stuck with me,” she said. “I hope I can be a blessing to the neighborhood.”

She said she tries to have low-cost items on hand, including $1 drip coffee.

Her attitude is reflected in the name of her business. “I just want everyone who comes in to feel welcomed and loved,” she said. “So many people are really lonely, and I just want them to feel loved when they come in. Whenever I’m making something, I put a lot of care and attention and love into it.”

Much of what Johnson makes changes with the season and what fruits are available. The pecan pie bars are something she always has on hand and are popular. She always has scones, though the flavors vary. She makes them in lemon blueberry, cranberry orange, orange chocolate chip and maple pecan. She’ll add pumpkin scones soon. She always has a pie to sell by the slice, and her muffins are gluten free and vegan.

One of her most popular items is her small, handheld pies she calls pop tarts. “I’m constantly selling out of those way early in the day,” she said. “They’re super labor intensive to make, too. It’s hard to keep up on those.”

Johnson gets her fruit from local sources. She uses Sunset Orchards in Green Bluff and gets all her berries from Piper Farms. “When it was peach season, we did a bunch of peach things,” she said. “We’ve started in on the apple stuff.”

She’s already made plans to ensure that she doesn’t run out of berries over the winter. “What I’ve done is stocked up on those,” she said. “I have a few freezers full.”

She also serves Indaba coffee as a way to support the business that has supported her. “They were my first wholesale account, and they took a risk on me,” she said.

Johnson has two part-time employees, and her mother works with her on Saturdays. “It’s fun to have her around,” she said.

During the summer, Johnson’s bakery is open three days a week so she has time to work on her wholesale accounts and farmers markets. The markets are mostly done for the season, so she just added a fourth day. Made With Love Bakery is open from 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. She plans to add Fridays in October.

Johnson said she has no regrets about turning down that 9-to-5 job. “Even thought I work a lot and it’s the most difficult thing I’ve done, it’s lovely,” she said. “I’m really, really happy I went this direction in life.”

Johnson said she’s still working out the kinks, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. “It’s just a lot of learning,” she said. “I love baking for people. I’m really grateful for how Spokane has supported me.”

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