Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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May 23, 2011

Collin Street Bakery denies fruitcake rivalry

Corsicana — The Collin Street Bakery says “nuts” to the article which ran Saturday in the Dallas Morning News in which the owner of Mary of Puddin’ Hill supposedly said he’s being driven out of business by the Corsicana firm.

Actually, far from wanting the Greenville company closed, the Collin Street Bakery has offered to help the managers of Mary of Puddin’ Hill make it through the downturn in the economy, according to Collin Street Chief Executive Officer Bob McNutt.

“We do not want to see such a well-respected, high-quality Texas company shut down. Period. In fact, we have been in contact with them trying to figure out how we can help this popular brand survive,” McNutt stated in a press release Monday morning.

Ken Bain, the owner of Mary of Puddin’ Hill, and a native of Kerens, said that’s certainly true.

“I haven’t talked with them recently. I’ve talked with them in the past. They’ve always expressed the opinion that the more people in the fruitcake business the better for everybody,” Bain said Monday.

The Dallas Morning News article exaggerated the rivalry, Bain said.

“You know you can’t always control what comes out in the paper,” he said. “I think a lot of it was people get more interested when they feel like it’s some kind of duel-type thing or whatever.”

Mary of Puddin’ Hill is a fruitcake and candy company located on Interstate 30 about 40 minutes northeast of Dallas. Saturday’s Dallas Morning News article claims that it’s closing because the Collin Street Bakery might open a store there. Bain said he got idea from a May 11 Corsicana Daily Sun article about the Texas Media Properties’ plans for putting in a sign in Greenville. Texas Media Properties is a sister company to the Collin Street Bakery.

While the Collin Street Bakery has considered a store in the Greenville area, it hasn’t acted yet, McNutt said.

“We do not own any land in Greenville, nor do we have a billboard there, though we are considering the area,” he said. “However, we’d like to point out McDonald’s locates near Burger King, not to put them out of business but to create a destination for customer convenience. If Collin Street Bakery does open in Greenville, we hope the synergies of locating near Mary of Puddin’ Hill will help to create more business for both.”

“Greenville is a wonderful town. We believe we can have a positive impact in that community should we move there. Our presence would create jobs and enhance tax revenues for the city. And we feel having a fine company like Mary of Puddin Hill down the road will only make it better for all of us.”

The Dallas Morning News article also calls the Collin Street Bakery an “800 pound gorilla” in the fruitcake business, and a “bakery behemoth,” both of which McNutt decries.

“Unless a family-owned business with 120 employees spread between three stores makes us one,” McNutt stated.

Mary of Puddin’ Hill is most likely suffering from the effects of fiscal policies of the federal government, which McNutt says are driving up the cost of pecans, fuel, shipping and employee’s wages and benefits. “Make no mistake about it, these are tough times for mail-order companies like ours,” McNutt stated.

Bain said the economy is part of the problem, but he said Puddin’ Hill’s mail order business actually saw an uptick this last year, but it just wasn’t enough.

“There’s a lot of different factors,” Bain said. “The economy has not been good in some regards. There’s just a lot of things happened over the last three years that have affected us. You have good times and bad times, and last year our mail order and catalogue sales increased over the year before, but our retail and highway traffic just wasn’t what we expected.”

Bain also pointed out that the Collin Street Bakery and Mary of Puddin’ Hill don’t make the same products, except for the fruitcakes, which are also different.

“Most of their products are baked, and besides the cakes, most of ours is chocolate,” he said. “Our customer base is different.”

Mary of Puddin’ Hill did benefit from the Dallas newspaper article through lots of orders, and it has some offers for investment and buy-out.

“We’re just evaluating things,” Bain said. “We’ve got several parties interested in acquiring us and investing. We’re revamping. We’ve got a lot of orders from last week we’re still trying to fill, mail and phone orders. And we were down to a small crew because it’s the off-season, so we had to ramp up.”

On Saturday, the supposed last day for Mary of Puddin’ Hill, the carts were lined up 20 deep waiting to check out, Bain said. “It was like Valentine’s and Christmas.”

In a tongue-in-cheek line from the Dallas Morning News article, the writer Marc Ramirez states: “Hide the kids. Though its intensity remains to be seen, a battle looms on the horizon to be fought not with mortar or muskets but with candied pineapple and walnuts.”

McNutt scoffs at that, too.

“Please bring your children out of hiding. We'd like to give them a free cookie!”

—————

Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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