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’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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Cero’s Candies signs on with Kerr Enterprises

WICHITA — Wichita apparently is a hotbed of potential products for Arthur Kerr to market domestically and internationally.

Connie’s Cookies and Byblos Restaurant already have deals with Kerr Enterprises of New York to market products.

Now, Cero’s Candies is working with Kerr to sell its peanut brittle.

“This is really kind of our first venture,” Cero’s general manager Marni Eickelman says of actively marketing to potential customers outside of Wichita.

She says they particularly will focus on Canada but look at opportunities in Japan, the United Kingdom and on the East and West Coasts.

Catalogs and magazines are possibilities, too.

“It’s kind of exciting and new, something different,” Eickelman says.

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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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Cakes with a WOW factor

cakePam Pletcher, who says she helped Connie’s Cookies start a cake business more than a year ago, is going into business for herself.

Pletcher has started WOW Cakes, which stands for World of Wedding Cakes.

“The whole sheet cake birthday cake thing is just so overdone,” she says. “It just doesn’t have that wow factor.”

Pletcher hopes to have a storefront within a year.

“I’m really afraid to get into any of the real estate now,” she says.

For now, she’ll sell online and through referrals.

Pletcher will specialize in wedding cakes but do other cakes as well.

“Everything I do will be of the wow factor.”