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One Californian pie shop’s place in the global economy

Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar Oct 28, 2019
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Bridget Bodnar/Marketplace

One Californian pie shop’s place in the global economy

Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar Oct 28, 2019
Bridget Bodnar/Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Selling coffee and both sweet and savory pies, the Pie Hole opened in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles in 2011. Since, the business has added locations around the Los Angeles area, as well as two shops in Japan.

The fundamentals of running the business have changed as a result.

“It’s much easier when you have a new business that’s kind of a darling … and then you have to settle into having good unit economics,” said owner Sean Brennan.

(Bridget Bodnar/Marketplace)

The Pie Hole started franchising a few years ago, but its first East Coast location was unsuccessful. Meanwhile, two of Brennan’s co-founders left and the company, which has also had to adapt to a competitive environment shaped by the popularity of food delivery apps.

Brennan has complicated feelings about putting the Pie Hole on platforms like Postmates and Caviar.

“You can’t not do it, because that’s where our guests are,” he said. But the services eat into profit margins.

He is separately concerned about the Trump administration’s threats to bow out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Our supply chain is deeply entrenched in North America,” Brennan said. “It’s not just Mexico, it’s Canada.”

Now though, he thinks even more about China. “I don’t order anything from China. And I don’t sell anything to China right now. “

His vendors do, however, and Brennan described them as “totally freaked out.”

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