Ownership of Magnolia Avenue stalwart, Stir Crazy Baked Goods, is changing hands.
In what amounts to a turnkey transfer, Stir Crazy Baked Goods founder and owner Robbie Werner will hand the business over to his friend and fellow Near Southside business owner, Tina Howard.
According to Werner, Howard – who our readers may know as both owner of Leaves Book and Tea Shop and author of the magazine’s monthly “Read This” column – brings a keen business sense, dedication to community and a new perspective at the thriving bakery.
“She’s such a visionary for Fort Worth,” Werner says of Howard. “And I love what she’s done with Leaves. I think watching her grow both businesses simultaneously is going to be fun.
Despite the new owner, Howard and Werner ensured Fort Worth Magazine and the legion of dedicated bakers and tea drinkers from both companies, who as of now little will change with the two stores.
“There’s so much about the heart and soul of Stir Crazy that I really love, and that’s what makes it Stir Crazy,” says Howard. “So there will be no immediate changes. We plan to keep the companies separate, and we’re not going to fundamentally change Stir Crazy.
While the delicious cupcakes and distinct signage will no doubt remain, that doesn’t mean things won’t change a bit. According to Werner and Howard, one of the main reasons Werner wanted Howard to take over the business (Howard says Werner asked her directly in January if she would like to own a bakery) was because she thought, in the hands of Howard, that the ten-year-old company could not only continue to thrive, but also grow.
“I see potential for where it could go and what it could be,” Howard says. “It’s more, like, ‘Hey, what’s the next level of this?’ Whether it’s product offerings or events and community spaces, I’m always thinking. Obviously there’s a real synergy between Leaves and Stir Crazy, but I’m still looking at what it might look like.
Although this news may surprise some, the two have been working on the details of this change of ownership since January. The change also comes on the heels of the bakery’s most successful year to date. This, despite widespread restaurant closures.
“It was important for me to pass on the bakery at the best time,” says Werner. “Now it just creates new potential, and that’s why Tina is the best.”
For his part, Howard, who has an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas and opened Leaves Book and Tea Shop in January 2016, is eager to bring his pedigree of success to Stir Crazy.
“I always felt that if there was a good opportunity to pursue our vision, even if it wasn’t exactly our product, we would consider those options.”
With Howard at the helm, people may wonder why Werner, who grew the company from its roots as a start-up on South Main to iconic status on Magnolia Avenue, is leaving the company. Werner credits a course she took through Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business Program as spearheading her decision. In the program, they describe all the ways one can grow as well as ways to develop an exit strategy.
“I found myself on this line: do I cultivate this and continue it myself, or do I let someone take the reins and get out of it and let someone else control the next chapter?
“What I have decided for me and my family is that I have a lot more to give,” says Werner. “I don’t know exactly what it is yet, and I need more time and space to figure that out. But I’ve contributed as much as I know how to the bakery, and I have the feel like it takes a new perspective, a fresh look, and a new energy to see beyond what I’ve created to help it grow.
Werner compares leaving the company to seeing his daughter move dorms from the University of Texas to Arlington in 2020. Sometimes all it takes is knowing when it’s the right time to let go in order to allow someone (or thing) to flourish.
“It’s difficult,” says Werner. “But, more than that, it’s exciting to see what we’ve built become something new.”