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Let’s Eat: Another reason to snack

Snack lovers in Thunder Bay have a new temptation - Sarah and Dipity’s.

Founders Sarah New and Ben Tranter started Sarah and Dipity’s, a home-based bakery and food business in May last year. The two pooled their skills and experience, as well as those of their family.

New, who enjoys cooking and baking for people, always thought about starting her own business. When Tranter married New’s sister Brittany, she had the opportunity to cater for their wedding, which gave her the confidence and experience to go ahead with her entrepreneurial plans.

Tranter, who previously worked at Bistro One and other food businesses in town, is now a software engineer. He built and maintains Sarah and Dipity’s website, where customers order snacks for pickup on Secord Street.

New’s sister Brittany handles the social media accounts for the business, and their other sister, Megan New-Borton, an artist, takes product photos, and designed the logo and packaging.

The concept for the menu is “nostalgia-inspired,” says New. “We wanted to recreate products that we love but can’t get anymore.” One of the most popular items on their regular menu is the sprinkle dip box, which comes with an icing dip with sprinkles, homemade butter cookies and cinnamon sugar pretzel bites. “It’s a nostalgic play on Dunkaroos,” she explains. “Most of our products are homemade and home-baked.”

There are savoury dips and chips, both sweet pretzels and savoury pretzels, a variety of dip boxes, as well as special items for holidays such as Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. New says many customers, unable to just pick one item, order the savoury spinach dip box and the sprinkle dip box.

Surprisingly, the snack they keep selling out of is something not even on the permanent menu: the strawberry shortcake ice cream bars are a hit and New can hardly keep up.

“We are looking into making them a permanent menu item,” she says. “We went through the Starter Company Plus program; we’re getting the opportunity to get new equipment, which will help us make them a permanent product.”

Starting a small home-business was an idea that appealed to both the founders. Tranter says he heard of another software engineer starting a successful home-based business during the pandemic and thought he would try to do the same. “Keep things small and simple,” he says.

As Sarah and Dipity’s became more popular, New and Tranter have stretched the definitions of “small and simple.” From selling a handful of items at home, they have gone on to expand their menu, start selling gift cards, and are now in the process of getting their products in retail stores, hopefully in a few months.

Their initial plan was to target millennials, but as they saw people coming to pick up their orders, they realized their customers weren’t just young people. “It started off niche and it’s kind of grown to everybody,” Tranter says. Since many of the snacks are shareable, he notices people making bigger orders when pandemic restrictions are relaxed.

The two are quite happy with the way their new business is going. “It’s been almost more than what we expected, in a really good way,” New says.

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