MANCHESTER, NH – A popular West Side bakery closed its storefront Monday following a series of litigious disputes with the property owner and an alleged burglary that ultimately crippled the small business’s ability to remain open to the general public.
The Wild Orchid Bakery, located on South Main St. in Manchester, shuttered its a la carte service after a number of financial setbacks due to building repairs and the alleged crime on Jan. 30.
Heather Hamel, the Public Information Officer for the Manchester Police Department, confirmed in an email that a report was filed and the burglary is currently under investigation.
Shelly-Anne Storer, the owner and head chef of The Wild Orchid Bakery, said that a person broke into her store and stole her Point of Sale system, her iPad, and both the phone and internet routers, thus making it impossible for her to open the shop and run her business.
A winter storm followed the burglary, closing the bakery for a week and costing the small business owner more than $1,000 in expired inventory after seeing a profit for the first time the week prior, said Storer.
“This has all taken a huge toll, not only on my business, but my personal well-being,” she said.
A native of Trinidad, Storer opened The Wild Orchid Bakery, which she describes as offering “sweet treats and island food,” on Dec. 18 after two months of working and spending her own money to get the building up to city code, a process that Storer said cost her more than $6,000.
“All I wanted was to make children, as well as brides and grooms struggling through COVID-times, happy,” said Storer. “All I wanted to do was bake.”
Such, however, was not Storer’s fate. Not yet, that is.
After the burglary and impending legal issues with the landlord, Storer accepted two-week notices from her employees, who she describes as “her second family.”
“My employees stood by silently but I knew nobody in their right mind would want to work under those conditions,” Storer wrote on her GoFundMe page, where she hopes to recoup some of the losses from the burglary and compensate her workers.
But the Manchester community has rallied behind The Wild Orchard and Storer while she searches for a new venue. The GoFundMe page had so far collected more than $4,700 in donations as of late Monday night.
“The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming,” said Storer. “The whole community has been backing me up and said they’d follow me wherever I go. It’s just huge.”
Storer said that she is currently looking into a few locations in the Queen City. “I want to stay in Manchester. This is my community and my home,” said the mother of four, whose children and husband, Adam Storer, frequently accompany her to work at the bakery, a workplace she said has become “unsafe” for herself, her employees and her family.
Meanwhile, Storer maintains her humility.
“I try not to get upset about the situation and, instead, focus on my commitment to homeless drives and helping others whose situations are beyond their control,” she said.
Additionally, Storer—who experienced her share of struggle during her days living on the island of Trinidad—maintains a brave face.
“I’m surviving week-to-week,” she said. “And hopefully I can find a safe place for The Wild Orchid Bakery to keep serving [the Manchester community].”