Selma Microbakery-an AERN Success Story
By Brett Bralley, AERN Intern
Selma residents have gotten a taste of Robert Armstrong's grandmother's chocolate chip cookie recipe, and they have come back for more. Recently Armstrong started a microbakery that specializes in cookies. Before he opened his business, he used AERN resources to formulate a plan and jumpstart the business, which is located in the heart of downtown Selma.
After Armstrong graduated from the University of Alabama, he spent a brief time in Birmingham before moving back to Selma. When he went back to his hometown, he decided to pursue his idea of marketing a family recipe.
In educating himself about how to operate a business, he came across the AERN resources at the Selma-Dallas Chamber of Commerce. The resources were very helpful, he said, when it came to understanding the rules and regulations of selling food. His business idea percolated for almost a year while he returned again and again to the chamber of commerce to go through the AERN reference and research materials.
The business opened in October 2009 with a strong emphasis on community enrichment. As further evidence of Armstrong's commitment to his fellow citizens, Selma Good Company donates 10 percent of its profit to an international Christian ministry called Integrity Worldwide.
The AERN information provided Armstrong with much-needed insights to facets of the business community. "There are just a lot of people here who aren't really educated about starting their own business," he said referring to Selma. "There's definitely a need here."
"My grandmother loves this," he said. "But she thinks it's hilarious. I said, 'I'm going to make a million dollars from these cookies one day.' 'You've got to be kidding,' she responded." His grandmother doesn't mind sharing her secrets, though. And, in addition to marketing his grandmother's recipe, he's come up with a few adaptations that are his own.
Armstrong says he also had another reason for moving back to Selma, a city that by 1960 had more than 28,000 in population but has decreased to about 18,000 currently. "I always said, 'I'm not going to give up on this town.' I lived in Birmingham for awhile getting my feet wet, but I always knew I would come back." So he returned to help keep the town vibrant, even as some people have moved away.
"I want the town to be an attractive place to live and it's got to have young people. Young people have to want to move here. There's some negativity because of things that happened in the past. I've heard people saying that it was great one day and now it's kind of deteriorating. But I don't see it that way." Selma will always be his home, he said.
From AERNews, Vol. 10, No. 2, Summer 2010