Connie Hamilton sells Connie’s Cookies, which is moving east and changing to Connie’s Cookies Bakery Cafe

WICHITA — Twenty four years after opening Connie’s Cookies, Connie Hamilton has sold the business, but she’s not leaving.

That’s because she’s sold it to her son, Rob Smith, and his wife, Tanya.

“Everybody asks me if I’m really sad about that, and I’m not,” Hamilton says. “I get to go back to doing what I like.”

That’s making cookies instead of handling paperwork.

“I’m still going to be every bit as present as I’ve ever been.”

Except that won’t be in the Sweetbriar shopping center at 21st and Amidon.

The Smiths and Hamilton decided to move the shop to Reed’s Cove Plaza on East 21st Street just east of 127th Street where Knolla’s Pizza used to be.

“We have no visibility over here, and things have changed,” Hamilton says of the current location. “When we first moved in here, we didn’t need visibility.”

Though holiday sales still are strong, Hamilton says the rest of the year has become more of a challenge.

“Nowadays, everybody is opening a bakery,” she says. She says many bakers operate out of their homes.

“It has really, really eaten into our everyday sales,” she says. “We had to look at what’s wrong, and we decided what was wrong was where we were located.”

She and the Smiths initially only considered moving downtown or to Delano.

“We had every intention of staying central,” Hamilton says.

Then Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, who handled the deal for the Reed’s Cove space, suggested that center.

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Connie Hamilton to open Party Party Party next to her Connie’s Cookies in Sweetbriar

WICHITA — A birthday party Connie Hamilton threw for her granddaughter a couple of years ago is the inspiration for her latest business.

Hamilton is opening Party Party Party next to her Connie’s Cookies in the Sweetbriar shopping center at 21st and Amidon.

“I’ve been asked for years . . . do we do parties or do we do classes?” Hamilton says.

Now she will.

The new business, which will be in about 1,700 square feet, will have several party rooms and will offer packages that include baking and frosting cookies.

Hamilton threw a similar party when her granddaughter, Haley Smith, turned 9.

“It was such a huge hit, most of the girls were like, ‘Mommy, Mommy, I want this for my birthday!’ ”

Hamilton initially thought she’d offer the parties mainly for young girls on the weekends.

“Everybody I mentioned this to said the same thing. ‘Well, what about the big girls? What if we want to have a girls’ night out?’ ”

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Connie’s Cookies to sell through Sweetly Scrumptious bakery

WICHITA — For years, customers have been asking Connie Hamilton when she’s going to open a Connie’s Cookies on the east side.

She says she’s going to do the next best thing by selling her cookies at Sweetly Scrumptious, a bakery that recently opened in Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn.

Hamilton will start by selling sugar cookies for walk-in business. Eventually, she’d like for east-side customers to be able to pick up custom orders there as well. She says there will be a $5 handling fee so she can make it worthwhile for the Sweetly Scrumptious staff.

Connie’s Cookies International strikes first deal

WICHITA — It was more than a year ago when Have You Heard? first reported that Connie’s Cookies owner Connie Hamilton was forming Connie’s Cookies International to sell her products globally.

“It’s kind of like giving birth to an elephant,” Hamilton says. “That’s what I felt like because it took 15 months.”

Now, she’s made her first big sale.

Hamilton has been working with Arthur Kerr, chief executive of Kerr Enterprises in New York, who arranged a deal with Mom’s Pantry, a Canadian-based fundraising company that will distribute Hamilton’s cookie and muffin dough tubs.

Hamilton says the deal will increase her business by about 70 percent.

The process took so long for several reasons. For instance, it took time to make a deal with the company that creates the product for distribution. Also, it was an involved process to take Hamilton’s recipes and create them in large quantities.

“That’s not easy,” she says.

It’s not like doubling a recipe, Hamilton says.

“There’s a lot more involved in it. A lot more science to it.”

The hard part is now done, though.

“When you stop and think about it, once you get something like this going, if you can just keep it going, I really don’t have to do anything,” Hamilton says. “All I have to do is push paper.

“It feels wonderful.”

Connie’s Cookies expands business through high-end cakes, cupcakes

WICHITA — Connie Hamilton of Connie’s Cookies was curious to read about Smallcakes, A Cupcakery, scouting Wichita for a potential store.

She’s trying to capitalize on the cupcake craze, too.

Though Hamilton has always sold cupcakes, previously it’s only been through special orders.

“It’s not like you can just walk in and see them,” she says.

In about two weeks, Hamilton will have a designated area in her store near 21st and Amidon where she’ll offer ready-made cupcakes with rotating designs and flavors, such as pina colada and peach cobbler.

“Just some different, fun things.”

She’s also going to start making muffins.

Hamilton is eager to see how the cupcakes will do.

“They haven’t really taken off here like they have everywhere else,” she says of the national craze.

Hamilton also is curious to see how Jeff Martin’s Smallcakes will do here.

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State says Connie’s Cookies behind on taxes; Connie Hamilton says not true

WICHITA — Business may not be booming for Connie’s Cookies right now, but owner Connie Hamilton says it’s not so bad that she should be having tax trouble.

Still, records show she owes $17,772 in sales tax and $1,264 in withholding tax.

Hamilton says those numbers are inflated, and they shouldn’t indicate that she’s behind.

The problem, she says, started in 2008 when she switched from a sole proprietorship to a corporation.

“My tax stuff has been going in against the wrong ID number,” Hamilton says.

“They were putting it against the sole proprietor number, which is now defunct.”

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Connie’s Cookies to begin offering cookie dough for fundraisers

WICHITA — Not long after Connie Hamilton opened her Connie’s Cookies 20 years ago, customers began asking if she would consider allowing her cookie dough to be used for children’s fundraisers.

It is “one of the things I was always afraid to do,” Hamilton says.

With limited storage at her bakery, her concern was that some gung-ho kids would sell 1,500 tubs of dough, and she’d have nowhere to put them.

“Now our capacity is unlimited,” Hamilton says.

That’s thanks to her new arrangement with New York’s Kerr Enterprises to sell her cookies internationally.

The co-packer that is making the dough for international distribution can make dough for fundraisers and then truck it to schools.

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Byblos owner to take her salad dressings international

saadWICHITA — Sometimes a person’s best partner in business can be a friend.

That’s what Ilham Saad discovered.

Saad, who owns Byblos Restaurant, Catering and Imported Grocery, is going to start selling three salad dressings internationally thanks to her friend Connie Hamilton of Connie’s Cookies.

As Have You Heard? reported in June, Hamilton is now selling her cookies internationally with the help of Arthur Kerr, chief executive of Kerr Enterprises in New York.

Kerr is in sales, marketing and supply chain management and represents several artisan products, such as gourmet popcorn, internationally in places like Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Hamilton has been friends with Saad for almost 20 years and remembered Saad first bottling her dressings 15 years ago.

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Connie’s Cookies to go international with a new company

WICHITA — For years, Connie Hamilton dreamed of doing something big with her Connie’s Cookies.

She moved her business to Sweetbriar at 21st and Amidon. She doubled her space there. And she entered into a licensed agreement for two women to open a Connie’s Cookie’s in Kansas City, Kan.

But she still wanted bigger.

With customers like Tom Devlin and Gayla Carney, Hamilton has always known “I have resources I probably could have called upon.”

“I just never felt confident enough to do that.”

Instead, Arthur Kerr, chief executive of Kerr Enterprises in New York, came to her. And with his help Hamilton took what she calls a “big and scary” move to form Connie’s Cookies International and take sales worldwide.

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