Snowy Berry Upgrades from Kiosk to Mall Storefront
Amanda Solis points to the homemade treats she sells alongside imported chocolates at her new storefront in the Midtown Mall.
In the two years that Amanda Solis has been operating Snowy Berry, her desserts have rapidly gained enough fans that the shop has outgrown a kiosk at the Midtown Mall. This month, Solis took the next step, shifting the business into a storefront equipped with a kitchen.
The Price of Success
The spot near the entrance to REI used to be Northern Delights, which sold a variety of nuts. Snowy Berry makes and sells almond brittle, marshmallows, and cocoa bombs.
Her loyal customers voted her Best Startup Company of 2021 in last year’s Best of Alaska Business awards, and she earned two more this year: Best Bakery or Dessert Spot and Best Customer-Friendly Company. That popularity comes with a downside, though: her supply couldn’t keep up with demand.
“I just didn’t have enough product. I was selling out all of my stuff, and I didn’t have anywhere to store my stuff,” Solis says.
Storage is less of a problem in the larger location. The space comes with larger overhead than a kiosk, of course, but the display case also has room for wider inventory alongside homemade treats: a curated cornucopia of brand-name bonbons, enough to keep selling five days a week (taking Mondays and Tuesdays off). Solis is bracing for seven-day weeks when the holiday shopping season arrives in November.
A different location also requires a different marketing approach, she’s discovered. “You want to make people want to come in. At the kiosk, we were grabbing their attention: ‘Hey, how’s your day?’ It’s not like that over here, because we have to stay inside,” she says.
To lure passersby—and to supplement dessert sales—Solis tapped into another “avenue of income,” as she puts it, by selling fresh sandwiches and teas. She figures she sold sixty drinks at the August 2 grand opening, practically enough to pay for the shaker-mixer machine that makes them.
Furthermore, sandwich supplies are available locally, so there’s less chance of running out. That’s a risk she takes with chocolates imported from Austria and jellies imported from Italy. She also has a few Italian tea tins for sale, which add to the Old World décor.
“A lot of people come over here, and a lot of them are military, and they’re like, ‘This reminds me of a shop in Europe,’” Solis says. She describes the shop’s decoration as vintage rococo, rendered in vibrant pink.
With her kids and husband helping out, Amanda Solis works hard to meet the demand for cocoa bombs and marshmallows that Snowy Berry has built in the last two years.
Desserts weren’t Solis’ first choice. She began by selling tamales in Florida, where her husband was stationed with the US Air Force. When they relocated to Alaska, she found less of a market for her tamales. Solis took a class in cocoa bombs and discovered a product that sold faster than she could make it.
Her husband now works at the Anchorage School District, and in the evening he helps at the shop, too. Her three children are homeschooled in the morning, and they don aprons when the shop opens and gain practical, on-the-job experience.
Given the pace of Snowy Berry’s ascent, Solis can reasonably expect to expand soon enough. “I’m being optimistic, but I’m thinking in two years we might open one at another location,” she says. “I’m hoping we would have employees by that time.”
From behind the counter, her son japes, “What do you mean? You already have employees!”