Hitting a Home Run with Long-Distance Loyalty

My husband doesn’t get too pumped about his birthday. Working in pro baseball, August 7 usually means sitting in a rain delay, enduring extra innings or traveling through the night on the team bus. To him, there’s nothing exciting about the day he came into this world (although his family and I beg to differ).


This year was no exception, as his team was schedule to play a double header on the road in Durham, NC. Although this commonly happens in baseball, I could tell he was less than thrilled. Being 631 miles away from Durham at home in Buffalo, I decided to hop on Google, find a bakery and send him a cake. The results that came from that search by far exceeded all expectations.

I came across Hummingbird Bakery, a small local bakery near the Duke University campus. After doing some research on their website, I called them up to inquire about delivery. The girl who took my call, Emily, probably thought my geographically-challenged birthday story was completely off-the-wall, but she rolled with it and set up the cake and delivery order. I asked if a small note card could be attached with a short message so he would know who it’s from. She said “Sure!" and jotted down the message.

Around 4:45 p.m., I got a call from my husband enthusiastically thanking me for the cake and my handmade card that I had created and mailed to the bakery to go along with the cake. Totally confused (and flattered that he thought I could make a kick ass card like that), I fessed up that I hadn’t done such a thing. What he had received was an awesome and very unexpected surprise.


Someone seriously took the time to make a total stranger (from Buffalo, no less) a really fun, creative birthday card. Wow.

Businesses, take note of these few things that Hummingbird Bakery did that can land you a loyal non-local customer base.

  1. Make SEO a priority. Had they not popped up in my Google search, I would have never found them.
  2. Never underestimate the power of a nicely designed (and legit) website. If their website looked as bad as last week’s stale, moldy muffins, I would have peaced out and moved on.
  3. Keep your word. When I called to inquire about delivery, I was promised a follow-up call back (which I got within a few hours). When I called to confirm the order, everything was set and details in place. So simple, yet so critical.
  4. Go past the expected.  I only expected them to deliver a birthday cake and a basic note card. They clearly went way above that and not only provided a decadent confectionery masterpiece (which was inhaled in two innings) but an unexpected cleverly handmade card (did you notice the Spalding baseball?!?). The smallest unexpected things make the biggest impact. They did it. They nailed it.

Hummingbird Bakery is my new favorite place where I’ve never been. You can bet your Banana Walnut Bundt Cake that the next time the hubby spends a birthday away from home in Durham, I’ll be giving them a ring.

When I got the call that the cake and card had been delivered, my husband was genuinely excited that today was August 7. Mission accomplished, thanks to my new friends in Durham.