Marty Kane is fond of the T-shirt he wears while running his Geneva store: "Buy Our Bread ... We Knead the Dough."
But the punny saying reflects an unfunny truth: His Great Harvest Bread Co. store isn't turning enough of a profit to justify keeping it open.
So Marty and his wife, Kim, are closing it Feb. 1.
"It's just dollars and cents," Kane said Tuesday.
They would have owned the shop five years in April. It opened in 1994, at 13 N. Third St. in Geneva's downtown. Besides bread, it sells cookies, bars, quick breads, sandwiches, condiments and coffee.
Kane cited three reasons the shop isn't working out: The economic downturn, the cost of ingredients, and the location.
Since he bought the shop, the cost of ingredients has risen astronomically, he said. "We offer a premium product," he said. Grains -- he mills his flour on site -- have increased about 50 percent, and some items such as walnuts and cherries rose 400 percent. Raising the price of bread to accommodate that would have driven away customers, he said, particularly when people have still not recovered from the economic downturn, he said.
Kane announced the closing Saturday via email to customers. Some wrote back, he said, apologizing for not patronizing the store as much as they had in the past. They said they couldn't afford the goods, as they had been unemployed for several years.
Kane also said the location became a problem. In the last three years, the U.S. Bank next door closed. Erday's clothing store, across the street, downsized and then closed. Another property on the short block, north of Erday's, has been vacant for several years. Compounding that is the fact that eastbound drivers on State Street are prohibited from turning left on to North Third Street during weekday rush hours. On-a-whim shoppers declined, especially after the bank closed.
"This street is not as crowded or popular as it used to be in the good old days," Kane said. He decided it wasn't worth the risk to spend money to move to another location. Rents on South Third Street are higher, he said, and he would have to work to make sure clients knew where the new location was.
Kane tried to sell the business for the last year, but there were no takers. "Nobody was willing to take the chance," he said.
There is a Good Harvest store in Naperville and one opening soon in Hoffman Estates.
Although Kane said he "didn't have a lot of hope" for small mom-and-pop businesses such as his competing against large stores, and that downtown Geneva needs more places that cater to kids and families, Kane, who lives in Geneva, said he didn't regret buying the business and learning to bake bread.
"We have had a good run at it. No sour grapes," he said.