Our gift of kindness that saved our bakery from cyberbullies!

Bake A Difference Grade 6-7Why Bake a Difference?

Sweet Ambrosia Bakeshoppe is a family owned, small local business. Ashlee and I began Kim and Ashlee’s Cakes & Cookies as a hobby in 2003. We loved any and everything cake and cookies. We talked, breathed, and dreamt cake. In 2009, we were finally able to turn our dream into a reality. Never having any experience, only passion, in running a retail bake shop, we learned as we grew; always trying our best.

In 2011, James (my son) came to join us. He would often joke about adding “James” to our store sign. It was wonderful to have someone reliable and dependable, who cared as much as us, to help ease the burden of running the shop. We were growing fast and excited about moving forward with our dream.

Sometime that year we found a “boycott” Facebook page that was against our bakery. It contained cruel posts, but a very small amount of members. We decided to turn the other cheek and do our best to prove all of the comments wrong. Naturally, we kept an eye on it from time to time. It was difficult reading the comments, even though we knew most of them to be lies or partial truths and one sided stories. It seemed as though each time we received publicity or acknowledgement for something we had done, the comments became more cruel and more people joined the group.

By the end of 2012, it became unbearable. The comments had taken a turn for the worse and became personal and even more cruel if that were possible. In addition, we began receiving even more cruel emails and Facebook posts. We also noticed a huge jump in bad reviews from outside review sites. We were embarrassed and ashamed that so many customers could hate us so much. We kept our problems to ourselves and tried to keep our chins up even when the disparaging comments and emails increased. We had even moved our business to a new location and changed our name in hopes of making a fresh start. This in itself is death to many businesses, but we struggled on, trying to escape the wrath of the members of this group set on perceived vengeance. We contacted an attorney and were told we would most likely win a slander and defamation case but the cost and time involved made us decide to reconsider our options.

Bake A Difference Mum And KidsThis was when we decided to take a different approach. We would bring everything out into the open. “Come clean” so to speak. We felt we had nothing to lose, at this point. It wasn’t until we went to the boycott page to scrutinize the comments more closely that we began to notice the names of the members. As we scrolled through, we counted, out of 60 members, only three women who had actually ever purchased anything from us. Of those three, we had given one 1/2 their money back after they ate the cake, one was a cake that had fallen over on delivery to Lumsden as they chose to deliver it themselves, and one was from a disgruntled bride from 2007 whom we offered to give her deposit back but she refused to come to our store to pick it up. That was it. Three upset customers. Hundreds of horrible posts from people who had never even been in our store or tried our product. Many of the members did not even reside in Regina. An ex-girlfriend of James (who is married), ex-high school classmates of Ashlee’s, an ex-employee’s mother and an RCMP officer posting about our customer service. I was outraged. These people didn’t know me. They didn’t know my bakery.

Why would anyone do this? How could people be so cruel? They insulted our personal appearance and they insulted our integrity. They even put that their intent was to close our business or put us out of business. It was not a boycott but a deliberate attempt to shut down our bakery. By people who had never even been there!

I wrote about what happened and what the group was doing. I was terrified. Would more people join the group? Would this give them the strength they needed to close us down? Would people even listen to our side? We were a business and everyone is always more sympathetic to the customer. I did not sleep the entire night before we posted our story. This would either make or break us. What would I do if I didn’t bake?

It was my life, my children’s life. What would we do?

We posted our blog. What happened next cannot be described with just words. The support began pouring in, by the hundreds and even thousands. Emails, telephone calls, Facebook posts and messages, Twitter messages and hundreds of customers and people coming in person to our shop. I cried a lot in the next few days. Relief, happiness, and hope. After years of enduring such hateful actions, the kindness we were shown by everyone, including the media, saved our business.

Our bakery is back on track. The attention and drama has died down. But we haven’t forgotten, nor will we ever. The kindness and support that was shown to us changed everything. We wanted to somehow repay the debt of kindness. To show everyone how much it meant to us. But how? We could raise money. We are good at that. But money wouldn’t have helped us, not when we were feeling so defeated and vulnerable. Not with our spirits so broken. What would make a difference? It was kindness that saved us and that is what we want to give back. We want to teach children kindness by being examples. We are willing to give our time and cookies to show everyone how kindness can make a difference and change someone’s life. That is why Bake-A-Difference. Come visit us on Facebook at Bake A Difference and see how many cookies we have baked, decorated and given away so far. – Kimberly ❤

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