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Workforce Wednesday: Fire Island Bakery and the keys to community business

By Daybreak Staff 12:16 PM December 14, 2016

Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop does more than just worry about the bottom line. The family-owned artisan bakery organizes outreach programs with communities in Anchorage. According to Rachel Pennington, a co-owner and head baker, they give sugar cookies to hospitals or sports teams to get them into the holiday spirit. It’s just one of the ways they share the passion of baking.

Cassie Ostrander with the Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium added says supporting a small neighborhood bakery has a ripple effect in the community. When someone buys a cookie, she says, the money spent stays in the community and helps support local employees.

Pennington added that there’s a lot of buy-in from employees, and that the business cares about them and their families. In addition to a paycheck, the bakery offers creative incentives to employees like gym memberships or higher learning opportunities.

“They give back to us, work extra hard, work every day in December, care about the product, care about the customers and the business,” Pennington said.

Each January the bakery closes for three weeks and sends its employees to visit other bakeshops or culinary institutions. They bring back new ways of making bread or cakes, and continue to grow as they pursue their passions. Pennington hinted at 2017 being a big year for them.

Just last year Fire Island expanded to a second location in Airport Heights. Pennington mentioned that the business has been received very well from the community.

Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop has two locations, the one on 16th St. and Logan St, and the main bakery on 1343 G St. near downtown Anchorage.

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