Owner of Wellington bake shop prevails through COVID to mark fifth year
WELLINGTON — Five years ago, Amy Perper was putting in the oven the first cookies of her shop at the Mall at Wellington Green. This Saturday, she will give the sweet, frosted treats for free to celebrate her fifth year in business.
Perper, owner of The Wellington Great American Cookie, said she is gifting the cookies on Aug. 5 to honor the loyal customer base that kept her shop open throughout the COVID pandemic.
“I’ve known some of my customers from coming in strollers to now coming to order with me,” Perper said. “Everybody loves cookies.”
Perper, who is a mother of three, bought the business in 2018 with hopes to pursue her lifelong passion for baking. Now, at the age of 59, she runs the shop six to seven days a week and has regulars from toddlers to an 85-year-old grandmother.
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"The relationships and friendships I’ve made here in Wellington are the reasons I’m excited to live here and love what I do," Perper said. “Now, I’ve relocated to Wellington so I can give it everything I’ve got.”
The staff at the Wellington Great American Cookies franchise will give a free frosted chocolate chip frosted cookie to each customer who joins them from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 5. They will also raffle off five customizable cookie cakes.
Back in 2017, Perper was a stay-at-home mom who lived in Boca Raton with her husband and three children. She wanted to start a business and after touring The Mall at Wellington Green decided to buy the Great American Cookies franchise.
“Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved baking,” Perper said. “When I found the store, I grabbed it quickly.”
She traveled to Atlanta to learn from the company's headquarters how to run the franchise and hired Kenny, the professional cake decorator who had already worked at the store for three years.
At first, Perper said, it was a challenge to learn how to run a food business, but her family always came to help. She learned how to decorate cookie cakes next to her youngest son, Josh, who was 15 at the time.
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Now, she prides in offering 18 different cookie flavors that are baked in small batches throughout the day for the warmest and softest taste.
Perper says she has customers of all ages who visit her weekly. Her youngest clients who first ate half a cookie now order six. There is also an 85-year old woman who goes to the shop every week to enjoy a cookie and a soda.
Josh, who is now 20, said the most rewarding moments of the business with his mom are when they see a customer unveil the cake and hear the frosted decorations were exactly what they wanted.
“It's been a journey to follow along with her,” Josh said. “It's a big family thing and everyone comes together."
As much as she loves baking, Perper said, the most important part of her business is talking to Wellington neighbors, resident groups and representatives of local hospitals and small businesses.
A year after Perper opened shop, the COVID pandemic forced the Mall at Wellington Green to shut down.
Perper's freezer was stuffed with cookies. Not knowing when they would reopen, she decided to donate all of them to hospitals and food banks from Wellington to Delray Beach.
“I would come in and bake in the morning and then give away our cookies,” Perper said. “By doing that, I established even more relationships in the community.”
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She met first responders, doctors and community leaders who thanked her for the treats and always asked for another batch.
Four months later, the mall reopened, but nobody was leaving their homes. Perper began taking catering orders and said she was only able to hold on to the business because of the families and local businesses who would call for cookies every week.
“It’s definitely not been an easy recovery after the pandemic for a lot of store owners,” Perper said. “So we are grateful that we have had continued support from our customers.”
Perper says the cookie shop has become her life and that she looks forward to baking and greeting clients at the shop for the next five years.
“We just want to continue serving our customers, making fresh delicious cookies, making people happy and putting smiles on their faces, and we hope that the mall traffic increases in the future.
Valentina Palm covers Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Loxahatchee and other western communities in Palm Beach County for The Palm Beach Post. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ValenPalmB. Support local journalism: Subscribe today.'I love combat':Publix update:Cookies:Double doozies:Cookie cakes:Shoppers welcome: