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West Orange Times & Observer Saturday, May 14, 2022 1 week ago

Bulk Pantry plans for new chapter

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Owner April Nobles is moving from her storefront in downtown Winter Garden. But her products still will be available.
by: Annabelle Sikes Staff Writer

April Nobles’ delicious low-carb, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, vegan and Keto custom baked desserts are created through her love of people. 

She said knowing she is helping someone else is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job. 

Although she has always been in the service industry, she originally wanted to be a nurse or work with the Special Olympics. 

“This kind of satisfies that void of helping people who not everyone can help, and supplying something that, I mean, eating a piece of cake at a birthday party is so monumental and when you can’t do that or when you have to sacrifice a comfort food because you can no longer have it, it takes a toll on someone’s emotions and how they lead their lives,” Nobles said. “I really don’t think you should have to sacrifice anything.” 

Now, The Bulk Pantry owner will be starting a new chapter in her culinary journey with the transition of her business. 

A NEW PATH

On Saturday, May 28, Nobles will close her downtown Winter Garden storefront and start anew. 

One week later, on Saturday, June 4, her goods will be available in a cooler across the street from her current shop in Main House Market. She will stock the cooler with all of her bestsellers such as doughnuts, cakes, cheesecakes, muffins, cookies and seasonal offerings. She also will be supplying products to The Modern Host on Dillard Street. 

In addition, Nobles will run the majority of her operations out of a commercial kitchen on State Road 50.

The owner of the pantry will still be doing custom orders, partnering with another local bakery to work out of the space on the days it is closed, creating a benefit for both businesses.

COVID COMPLICATIONS

The Bulk Pantry was not immune to the complications of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We made it through COVID, but it wasn’t easy,” Nobles shared. “Even after, at the tail end of COVID, I pretty much lost all my staff.”

Nobles had to take a hard, honest look at her business.

“I have a family, just like everyone else, and I was already working six days a week, and I am now working seven days a week since basically last August,” she said. “I just felt like this was a turning point as to what direction I wanted to take the business in.”

Although the downtown Winter Garden area is beautiful and popular, Nobles said rent is expensive.

Balancing the business herself while also being the mother of two children, Blake, 8, and Ryan, 6, has proven to be difficult.

However, even with everything she is dealing with, she said she is working hard to maintain the quality and consistency of her product. 

“Somebody once told me a few years ago, ‘Do the one thing that you do, do it at 100%, and do it well, and then everything else will follow,’” she said. “That’s something I’ve always kept with me.”

CUSTOMER CONTRIBUTIONS

Although the past few years have been tumultuous, the one constant has been the pantry’s loyal customer base. 

Nobles said she will miss the interaction with her customers, because many not only are customers  but also dear friends.

“My customers are amazing; I’ve always told them they are all rock stars,” Nobles said. “You encourage, you give me grace, strength, and I’m humbled by just the outpour and the following.” 

Starting from nothing more than four years ago, The Bulk Pantry now has about 10,000 followers on Facebook. 

Customer and friend Gloria Green said she met Nobles at the end of January when she needed a birthday cake for a party. Because of allergies, Green said she offered to find a birthday cake that was dairy-, dye- and gluten-free. 

“The end result was a scrumptious cake that everyone in the family could enjoy,” Green said. “While shopping there, I discovered her peanut butter cookies: gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free. These were a blessing to round out my highly restricted diet.”

In addition to her customers and two sons, Nobles said her husband, Dwayne, father, Scott, and mom, Kathy, have been her motivation and have helped her along the way. 

SWEET SAGA

The bulk goods shop originally opened in January 2018 in the Tri-City Shopping Center at the northeast corner of South Dillard Street and West Colonial Drive. 

The shop offered a wide selection of cooking and baking ingredients customers could buy in bulk, such as nuts, candies, spices, flours, coffees, and dried fruits and vegetables. 

Nobles said the Florida humidity was taking a toll on the business, and she was throwing away more goods than she was selling.

One day, a customer asked her if she had ever baked anything, and another asked her about Keto, but she had no idea what that was. Nobles conducted days of research and talked to nutritionists before buying a toaster oven and beginning to bake muffins a dozen at a time.

“It blew a door open for a whole need I think this community didn’t know they needed, but knew they needed,” she said. 

Nobles started with low-carb muffins and bread before venturing her way into cupcakes. In June 2019, the pantry moved to its new location at 103 S. Main St., in downtown Winter Garden

In addition to the storefront, Nobles started subscription boxes in August 2021. The item assortment changes each month, and all items are frozen and vacuum-sealed prior to shipping. She said she sells anywhere from 30 to 70 boxes a month. 

THE BULK PANTRY

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Annabelle Sikes is a staff writer at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past...

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