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Pati Drumm Grady finds recipe for job satisfaction at the Cooperstown Cookie Company

by Eric J. Hurwitz
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) -- The Cooperstown Cookie Company, in Cooperstown, NY, is not your typical cookie-cutter business.

Bringing together the love of two American obsessions -- cookies and baseball-- the Internet-based Cooperstown Cookie Company has become a sweet success
story not only for its variety of delicious baseball-themed cookies, but for its commitment to helping people with disabilities.

Pati Drumm Grady, 57, and a long-time Cooperstown, NY,
resident, started the business from "scratch" in 2004 baking cookies out of her home in Springfield Center, NY. Using a family recipe, Grady launched the Cooperstown Cookie Company also in 2004 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum World Series Gala offering the "all-American" all-natural classic baseball shortbread cookies to the delight of local residents and tourists. 

 The Cooperstown Cookie Company comes after years of Grady living and working in many parts of the world. She has lived in Cooperstown twice, first as a graduate student at the Cooperstown Graduate Program in 1973 and as a staff photographer and a member of the New York State Historical Association Education Department from 1974-1976. After living in Vienna, Brussels and Belgium for seven years, Grady returned to Cooperstown as a single parent with three children in 1992. She met her husband, Kevin, a fourth generation Cooperstown native in 1993. They married in 1996 and, together, have five children. Kevin is the founder and co-owner of the Doubleday Cafe.

It took many years, but the thought of creating a baseball cookie in a community famous for baseball seemed like a potentially special business, according to Grady.                            

"I did not really think too long or hard about starting this business, "said Grady.  "One day it occurred to me that no one had (from Cooperstown or anywhere) ever made a baseball cookie and, so, I pursued the idea further.  After approximately six to eight months planning, researching and consulting with industry experts, I decided to move forward to 'put legs onto the idea'."

"I woke up a lot during the night thinking a lot of how to start a business with baseball cookies. Since we are in Cooperstown, the business was a natural."

The question was, "how to make a baseball cookie," since Grady could not find a baseball cookie cutter.

"The first baseball cookies were made in my kitchen using a glass to cut a round circle in rolled out shortbread dough," said Grady.  "I then used a pastry crimper to draw 2 inverted "C" shapes in the dough.  The baseball cookie was officially born.   I then approached a local tinsmith to create a prototype hand cutter.  That evolved into a multiple hand cutter which is still used to hand make every cookie."

The cookies come in four flavors: Classic Shortbread, Boys of Summer Lemon Shortbread, Mudville Mudball Chocolate Chip Shortbread, and All Star Almond
Shortbread; and two sizes: Regulation Baseball Size or bite-sized "Bunts." The Cooperstown Cookie Company also features Amish-made milk and white chocolate baseball caps.

Local support has been tremendous as the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Doubleday Cafe, Stagecoach Coffee, Brewery Omegang, Straws and Sweets, the Cooperstown General Store and Cooperstown Natural Foods sell the baseball cookies. On an international level, the New York Times, Sporting News, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Town & Country and Japan Times have featured the Cooperstown Cookie Company.  Last summer, the cookies were featured on the Food Network's popular program, "Unwrapped" and as the "Snack of the Day" on the Rachael Ray Show.

"We've put our heart and soul into this (business)," said Grady. "The recognition has been very nice."

Pathfinder Village, a residential community in Edmeston, NY, dedicated to adults and children with Downs Syndrome, assists with production by developing,, bagging and packaging the cookie mix. The Cooperstown Cookie Company shares a portion of its profits with Pathfinder Village. Human Technologies Corporation
(HTC), of Utica, NY, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with disabilities and other disorders, packs the cookie tins and fills all orders.

"We have great relationships with Pathfinder and Human Technologies," said Grady. "It feels great to reach out to the community. It's not just about baking cookies."

Grady, who runs the company out of her barn overlooking beautiful Lake Otsego, has some terrific support, in addition to Pathfinder and HTC. DeIorio's Frozen Food Products,Bakery, a bakery in Utica, NY, went beyond its Italian pizza dough specialization by producing the baseball cookies at a faster pace. This was essential as Grady-- previous to having DeIorio's come on board -- had to turn down the New York Yankees requesting 19,000 cookies for a Mother's Day promotion. Happily, the enhanced production capabilities were able to accommodate the Yankees next request for 2,400 cookie favors for a season's opener dinner.

Grady has tapped into a network of extremely talented local professionals to enhance the business. Key alliances to the Cooperstown Cookie Company include Shelly Freyn, who has a food science degree from Cornell University and 15 years food science work experience, including Mrs. Field's; Lonni Sue Johnson, an award winning illustrator (including five New Yorker covers), pilot and a local organic dairy farmer whose art talents have helped create a colorful business image; David Depperman, a food scientist, entrepreneur and the former regional director of the the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) arm of the Small Business Administration: and Peg Odell who works on marketing and public relations.  Kathleen Gozigian and Kim Lierheimer provide integral sales, customer service and order processing "back office" roles in the business.

Grady concludes that she loves her current profession -- the art and science of baking and, ultimately, creating a business that brings daily satisfaction.

"I'm proud of this small business that seems to be growing every day."

Visit the Cooperstown Cookie Company Web Site to browse its products and to order online.  Mention code VCDC and receive $1 off your order of $15 or more.

For more information on Cooperstown, NY, view the Cooperstown Travel Library, Attractions Resource Guide, Calendar of Events, Dining and Lodging sections, and photo gallery

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