A bakery that was meant to be
From time to time, our archivists at General Mills get contacted about the discovery of billboard and advertising signage related to our earliest history. All of the stories they hear make the company’s history come alive.
But the way Allison Shapiro revealed a Gold Medal flour wall painting will make you believe that some things are truly meant to be.
Last August, Allison leased a store-front in an old building in her hometown of Lynbrook, N.Y., on Long Island. A former art restoration specialist and art therapist for children, she had transitioned her career into sculpting cakes. Her part-time business had been growing fast over the last few years, so she needed more space.
She had her eyes on the vacant storefront in Lynbrook for a few months, but she never quite knew why she was drawn to it.
Allison told me her story in a recent phone interview.
“I’d always find myself pressing my nose against the window,” she said. “But then somebody leased the store, and my heart was broken… just for some reason, I thought I was supposed to be there.”
But when she heard that contract fell through, she sensed it was time for her to take on the lease.
Once she did, Allison wasted no time getting into the building and taking a look around. And, as she explains in this audio clip, the way she discovered a Gold Medal flour sign sent chills down her spine.
(Breaking through the sheetrock. Photo courtesy: Allison Shapiro)
(The sign, revealed! Photo courtesy: Allison Shapiro)
Allison cleaned up the brick wall – which used to be the exterior of an alley – as best she could. “I used a Mason’s brick sealer, and just air brushed it and sealed it. I froze it in time.”
She must have done a good job. Some people, knowing her art background, thought she painted the sign.
Because of it, her bakery – The Sweet Peace Specialty Cakes – has become quite the attraction in Lynbrook.
As best she can tell, her store – formerly an open meat market an dry goods store – was probably built into an alley between two other buildings in 1908. An open window that was once used in the meat market to buy goods now serves as the daily menu for Allison’s boutique bakery counter.
Lynbrook Historian Art Matson helped Allison research and date the Gold Medal flour advertisement and the history of Lynbrook.
Our research has found that the Gold Medal flour campaign sign and then-famous slogan “Eventually – Why Not Now?” debuted for the Washburn Crosby Company in 1907.
“Our little place has become kind of a landmark in the town,” Allison said. “I’ve had a lot of people come in with their parents and grandparents and they say, ‘I remember this (dry goods) store.’ At night, we have a light shining on the sign, and it’s literally at the front door. It’s really cool!”
It’s been about four months now since Allison opened her bakery, and business is booming – she’ll even be a contributor on NBC’s “Today Show” this summer – and she can’t help but think fate has played a part.
“I believe everything happens for a reason.”
Editor’s note: Have you discovered some of our old advertising? Email our Archives team to let us know.