Small business bowl – Wild Flour Bakery

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New Berlin bakery in line for some Super exposure
Dolly Mertens has been anxiously awaiting this season’s National Football League playoffs.
But her focus isn’t so much on the Green Bay Packers’ possible return to Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami. That would be icing on the cake, so to speak, for the owner of the New Berlin bakery.
Mertens has a solid team behind her as she is a finalist in a contest to win a commercial on the television broadcast of the Super Bowl.
Thanks to teachers and students in the West Allis-West Milwaukee school system, Mertens’ Wild Flour Bakery could be selected to be showcased as the winner in Mail Boxes Etc.’s “See Your Small Business on the Super Bowl Search II.”
The winner is highlighted in a nationally-televised Mail Boxes Etc. commercial during the Super Bowl, which is expected to have an audience of 130 million people.
As of presstime, the bakery was among the top 10 finalists in the contest which attracted thousands of entries. The top three finalists were to be named the first week of this month.
A 30-second commercial on the Super Bowl this year will cost regular advertisers $1.6 million, notes Karen Gajewske, of Mail Boxes Etc. headquarters in Escondido, Calif. But she called the exposure “priceless.”
In addition to the nationwide exposure from the commercial, the winner will receive $5,000; second- and third-place winners will receive $2,000 each.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Mertens said of the process – especially the part involving the students and educators who’ve come together in the effort. “It’s a wonderful opportunity that we can encourage young people and make something for us at the same time. And it shows the community that our young people have great talents.”
The Super Bowl contest has been another serendipitous event for Mertens, who ran a residential and commercial cleaning business before she found her real calling.
“I always thought of bakeries in terms of just donuts. And that wasn’t my cup of tea,” Mertens says. “But one day when I was back East I saw a loaf of bread and instantly knew my mission in life.”
With her youngest son Josh as the master baker, Wild Flour quickly became established in its New Berlin neighborhood and beyond. The bakery currently employs 26 people, eight of them full-time. Its breads and pies have won reader polls in Milwaukee Magazine and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Mertens [whose husband Greg Mertens works for the U.S. Small Business Administration] attributes the two-year-old bakery’s success to one miracle after another. She’s always been a supporter of young people and has been involved in employment training programs with several area school districts.
Now she’s getting something back for that involvement. A group at the West Allis-West Milwaukee schools approached Mertens about entering the Mail Boxes Etc. contest, offering to create a video commercial of the bakery.
“I had no trouble getting people to help me on this one,” said Dennis “Bart” Bartel, a West Allis-West Milwaukee instructor who’s been instrumental in the project. Bartel saw the project as an educational opportunity for the WA-WM students, and as a way to maybe earn some income for school programs. He asked Mertens if she would be willing to donate half of any winnings to the schools. “We don’t like begging for things,” Bartel says. Mertens’ response? She’d donate the full amount.
Bartel estimates the video production took at least 100 man-hours. “I doubt too many small businesses could afford to put together a commercial like the one we did,” he says.
While the bakery positions itself as a re-creation of the neighborhood bakeries that once flourished in urban neighborhoods, Wild Flour products are distributed throughout the metro area. It ships its made-from-scratch breads and pastries far beyond its Moorland Road and Howard Avenue neighborhood – via the nearby Mail Boxes Etc. franchise owned by sisters Patty Risch and Beth Riemer at 15417 W. National Ave., of course.
Wild Flour Bakery and the local Mail Boxes Etc. franchise could be a whole lot busier if the bakery garners the Super Bowl spotlight. And both are gearing up for that prospect.
The bakery – through the West Allis-West Milwaukee students – is working on a Website that could process orders that Mertens expects would pour in from the national exposure. [While the Super Bowl commercial focuses on the first place winner and its relationship with Mail Boxes Etc., the second- and third-place winners are also mentioned.]

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