Cookies and a Glass of Milk
It’s safe to say Shaker resident Penny Parker makes people happy every day.
Or, rather, her cookies do. Through her 11-year-old business, WOW! Cookies!, she sends
fragrant packages of delicious, handmade cookies to surprised recipients across the
country. And she loves it.
Penny wasn’t always in the baking business. But after a 35-year career with a
Fortune 500 beauty company, Penny found herself unemployed with a generous
severance package and some time for herself. She treated herself to college classes as well as
culinary school, where she gravitated toward the pastry program.
Around the same time, at a local outdoor community event, a new career in cookies
was born. Browsing the food choices with a friend — who became her partner in her first
venture, Cookie Chicks — Penny realized she didn’t want corn dogs or cotton candy or any
of the other carnival-type food.
“‘I’d like a cookie and a glass of milk,’” Penny had said, “and that kind of started the
Penny had enjoyed baking for decades, and also had decades of on-the-ground
business experience, so marrying the two was a natural fit. The Cookie Chicks spent two
grueling years baking all week, and then selling cookies (but, alas, no milk) at outdoor
events 30 weekends a year. After two years, the partnership was dissolved, and Penny
immediately launched WOW! Cookies!.
She had been exploring a new business model when she was still with Cookie Chicks,
and was ready to launch her new venture immediately.
“I’ve been in business for a very long time,” says Penny, “and so I decided I was going to
start a company that would focus on sending high-quality cookies and brownies
anywhere in the United States as a gift item.”
Penny spends a lot of time connecting with corporate America because she knows
businesses are looking to buy unique, quality gifts to thank customers and for a variety
of other reasons. “I’ve got a very large law firm downtown that sends a cookie package to
welcome new employees to the firm,” says Penny.
Individual customers are also a significant market for WOW! Cookies!. It could be
“any reason from congratulations to birthdays to condolences to missing you. If you’re
thinking about sending flowers, a box of cookies can be just as nice.” On the WOW!
Cookies! website, Penny offers a variety of packages of all sizes and combinations of
All these packages get sent out directly from Shaker Heights. In her Thornton Park-area
home, where she moved in 1999, Penny has designated a garage-studio space as her business
headquarters. But for a couple of extra freezers at home, though, all the actual cookie part of
the business is done offsite. All her baking is done in a Shaker Heights commercial kitchen,
and she also rents space in a massive downtown freezer facility.
40 SHAKERONLINE.COM | FALL 2017
By Sharon Holbrook
Photography by Green Street Studios
Penny couldn’t possibly keep up with
the volume of her orders in her home
kitchen, but she can bake 150 cookies in
15 minutes in the commercial kitchen.
This is especially critical at the end-of-year
holidays, when WOW! Cookies! takes in 70
percent of its annual income. She’s learned
to spread the work out with prep and
freezing, and hires up to eight temporary
workers around the holidays to help get out
thousands of cookies.
No matter the volume, Penny takes
great pride in each cookie. Each enormous
cookie (she uses an ice cream scoop to
portion the dough) is handmade and uses
high-end ingredients, like imported
chocolate and freshly dehydrated fruits
from a local farm. “We get a premium price
for our goods, so we want to make sure they
are outstanding,” explains Penny.
Penny believes WOW! Cookies! could
be grown even larger and, if she’d started
the business earlier in her career, she says
she’d probably work towards additional
growth. But at this point, Penny, who also
serves as the director of Meals on Wheels
for Shaker Heights, Beachwood, and
University Heights, has no desire to take
things to a bigger level. “I’m very happy
with my business the way it is,” she says. By
all accounts, her customers are too. SL
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Cookie Experience LLC
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