At a time when businesses were closing, employees were losing their jobs, and the world was shutting down, business for Sasquatch Cookies was beginning to heat up.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, nearly 50 million Americans (almost twice the population of Texas) were unable to work because their employers closed or lost businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But for Brooke Orist, 33, owner of Sasquatch Cookies in Colorado Springs, COVID-19 has been a time of hiring, expansion and sales growth.
Orist started her business with a few friends in 2017, baking three days a week after hours in a communal kitchen. With no physical store, Orist’s business model relied entirely on delivery.
When the company was in its infancy, Orist did not have an automated delivery system. Instead, an order would come in and she and her friends/business associates would have to request it and search Google Maps for directions.
“I remember our very first order from a customer was a lady who accidentally hit someone else’s dog,” Orist said. “And she sent cookies like, ‘I’m so sorry I killed your dog.'”
Orist hoped that Sasquatch cookies would not evoke negative associations in the recipient, but from then on, Orist and its business partners attended festivals and art shows to sell their products and get their name out there.
“It was a great blessing,” Orist said. “That was exactly what we had to do.”
Six months after delivery, Sasquatch Cookies invested in an automated delivery system that fills in deliveries on the card and matches them to a driver.
Business was so good that Orist planned to open their first brick-and-mortar location. By this time all of their business partners had left the company and Orist, who had developed the recipes and the Sasquatch concept, went from being the majority owner to the sole owner of the company.
Their first Quick Service location opened at 1020 E. Jefferson St., Suite 100.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong on site,” Orist said.
Instead of April 2019, her shop opened nearly a year later in March 2020, the week before the COVID-19 lockdowns began.
What seemed like a death sentence (and certainly was for some companies) was the start of a boom for Sasquatch cookies.
“It wasn’t a fulcrum, we were always making deliveries,” Orist said. “So we were instantly inundated with an insane amount of deliveries every day.”
Orist went from 25 deliveries a day to about 200. It hired 40 new employees instead of the previous six. Orist mainly hired people who had lost their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We had a woman who worked for Disney for years and did tours,” Orist said. “Last time it was Paw Patrol, so she likes to do costumes and stuff, so she said, ‘Sasquatch delivery, that’s perfect for me.'”
From the days of late-night baking to delivering Sasquatch suits, Orist’s cookies have been on a roll.
The bakery’s modest storefront was allowed to remain open and also attracted business. Also, with a delivery system already in place, Sasquatch Cookies helped other companies sell and deliver their products during the pandemic.
Eventually, Orist reduced staff as many workers returned to their usual careers. But that didn’t mean Sasquatch Cookies’ popularity was waning, 2021 was its best-selling year.
“Amazon ordered 15,000 cookies over Christmas,” Orist said. “So we have massive days.”
By the end of 2022, Orist opened two additional locations, a store at 7636 Dublin Blvd., Suite 170, and a store in the Red Leg Brewing Co. complex, 2323 Garden of the Gods Road.
Recently, Orist’s family has also contributed.
Her mother is a shift supervisor at her Garden of the Gods location; her brother-in-law, a contractor, helped set up her Dublin location; and her older sister, Claire Schroeder, helps bake and runs the register.
“This is all handcrafted by me and Brooke,” Schroeder said, pointing to the drywall at the Dublin site. “I literally built this place.”
But as national cookie brands like Crumble Cookies and Mary’s Mountain Cookies come to Colorado Springs, Orist wonders what the future holds.
“A lot of people came up and said, ‘Hey, I want to own a franchise,'” Orist said. “And sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh, this could be cool.’ But I do not know. I say, ‘Okay, Lord, what should I do?’”
Until then, biscuits will definitely still be on the menu.