After four years, Marty Fent has seen his business grow locally, but he does not want to stop there.
“We’re going statewide,” he said.
Fent, the owner of Uncle Marty’s Cookies, said he began his business in Hutchinson while he had some free time between jobs.
He began selling his product that summer at the local farmers market and has since developed different ways to produce more cookies for a broader market.
“It went from something to keep me out of trouble to something that would be good,” he said.
Fent said he began with a “handful” of cookies to sell at the local market, and each year improved how he marketed his product. By 2013, Uncle Marty’s Cookies averaged 20 dozen batches per week, the largest order coming at 48 dozen.
The location of his bakery also evolved through the years, beginning at Fent’s home and then moving to local bakeries. He said the cost of electricity and the mess of cooking were downsides of working at home.
“Fast-forward to now, I’ve got two workers who are setting up in (Norel Farms) bakery downtown,” he said.
Rachel Schmidt, co-owner and manager of Norel Farms, said she was willing to help Fent because his situation reminded her of when she began selling baked goods. She had made a product so successful at the farmers market, restaurants wanted to sell it.
It would not happen though, because she did not cook in a certified kitchen meeting food safety requirements.
“I wanted to help someone else when I didn’t get the help I felt I needed,” she said.
Fent currently sells cookies at farmers markets in Hillsboro, throughout the county, and in Hutchinson. He hopes to expand into the Wichita market soon.
Moving ahead, Fent said he has brainstormed new distribution methods and purchasing a vehicle to bake and sell cookies in.
In addition to the original chocolate chunk, peanut butter with peanut butter chips, oatmeal with cranberries, and snicker doodles, Marty’s cookies will offer five more sugar-free options and a gluten-free vegan cookie.
“If we can get involved in more stuff in the community, that would be beneficial for us,” he said.