One burglary can ruin a small local business. Two burglaries over an eight-month span, with the second during the Covid-19 pandemic, could capsize any enterprise.
Thanks to its support in Niagara Falls – and the goodwill its engendered in the community – the Little Bakery appears to be an exception.
Nearly 1,000 donors have raised close to $40,000 to help the pizza shop, known for fresh-baked bread and carrying on the legacy of Trusello's-style pizza at the same location, repair its damages and return to business, which it did Wednesday, at 842 19th St. in Niagara Falls.
In addition to the GoFundMe started by a customer and in-person donations, owner Sam Bassett was rendered speechless after a cavalcade featuring the Niagara County sheriff, city police, the Niagara Falls district attorney and more local officials stopped by to show verbal and financial support, too. The Niagara Reporter caught video of the proceedings.
So this just happened we were asked by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and Niagara Falls police to be at the bakery...
After recovering from an October break-in that set them back at least $1,000, the Little Bakery was burglarized again Sunday with "significantly more" taken from the pizza shop than the preceding robbery, according to Bassett.
Bassett, who has run the business since 2018 with help from her boyfriend, Jason Conte, estimated the money taken from the safe, the two point-of-service systems, the dough mixer for their bread and pizzas, and several other pieces of commercial business equipment was valued in the tens of thousands of dollars. They shared security camera video of the robbery.
Just a week before the break-in, the Little Bakery had applied for a zoning variance to move the 19th Street bakery to 3695 Pine Ave., about a mile from the original location, just to the south of Hyde Park.
ðððððð I'm just putting it out there this is for the people that said we had too many cameras not to have video footage.
"I just want to say thank you because you guys probably put us out of business for good, after everything we do for everybody," said an emotional Bassett in a video she posted to the Little Bakery's Facebook page shortly after learning about the break-in.
"It's destroyed in there," she continued. "Everything is stolen – I just don't understand the audacity that these people have – it really gives you a sick feeling in your stomach."
Posted by The Little Bakery on Monday, June 8, 2020
The Little Bakery had a food giveaway scheduled for the day following the break-in, a goodwill endeavor funded in part by several Niagara Falls political campaigns: Caroline Wojtaszek, Michael Filicetti and Brian Seaman. The business has been outspoken in support of some local officials and law enforcement.
The Little Bakery went ahead with the commitment, even with their pizza shop in tatters.
"When I started seeing people come and the kids being happy, that made me feel a lot better," said Bassett, who also owns the hair salon Super Clips. "It put what happened that morning on the back burner. It was amazing."
With the donations received, Bassett confirmed her business would be able to stay afloat. "Breathtaking" was the word she used to describe the community's support in the face of adversity.
"It just shows that everything that you do, people appreciate that, they love the Little Bakery," said Bassett, who's hosted giveaways for striking General Motors workers, regularly donated pizza to first responders and hospital workers, and gave away thousands of free sandwiches during the pandemic.
"I can't even fathom – it's so generous of everyone donating (to the GoFundMe). Some of them are clients that have turned into friends from the hair salon, some are people who don't even know the bakery.
"The people who started the GoFundMe, we didn't know them from nothing – and they don't want anything in return."
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