Big Leaf Maple Bakery is a small woman-owned bakery that began with wholesale baking and now has a retail location in Poulsbo.
Owners Wendi Olinger and Sara Clowery met while working at Pan d’Amore on Bainbridge Island and decided that they enjoyed their work so much and working together that it was time to branch out.
In January of 2020, they began baking goods for wholesale across Kitsap County and like many other businesses had to adjust to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For about a year we were a wholesale bakery on Bainbridge Island, supplying everything from Macarons to Bon Bons, to places like Kitsap Fresh and other places down in Bremerton etc. Then about a month ago we opened up our first brick and mortar,” Olinger said. “We started the business two or three months before COVID hit, and we really kind of changed things to where we were working more directly with customers as opposed to just wholesale by doing some deliveries mainly on Bainbridge.
“We’ve pretty much been functioning as a business during this time of COVID only, so it hasn’t really changed a whole lot for us; it’s all we’ve known in a sense.”
While the duo still lives with their families on Bainbridge Island, the decision to open their retail location in Poulsbo was twofold. The charm of the city and the relationships that they forged through the Poulsbo Farmers Market have given them a familiar customer base, but also provides a central location for the wholesale aspect of the business.
“When we first started out we really enjoyed the Poulsbo Farmers Market, and we did that our whole first year open. We really just enjoyed that community and love how the market is run and handled and how they support the vendors and how the customers support and encourage the vendors as well,” Olinger said. “Poulsbo is also a more central location for us, especially with our connections down in Bremerton and the more southern end of Kitsap County; it helps us to be more in the middle.”
As the world begins to open back up, Olinger and Clowery have been surprised by the number of people who have been coming into the shop.
“We’ve really had to ramp up production and slow down the wholesale side of things a bit and really focus on getting as much product in the store as possible. We’ve really been surprised at the need and excitement for different baked goods, and we’ve been selling out of most products by noon on the days we’re open,” Olinger said.
Big Leaf Maple Bakery’s retail location is located at 19168 Jensen Way in downtown Poulsbo.
“We are really known for our bagels and our French macarons. We don’t really fry anything; we are more a kind of French/ Jewish pastry-based…I think will give the people of Poulsbo and greater Kitsap County a variety in their morning breakfast options,” Olinger said. “Croissants have been extremely popular.”