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Do you know the Muffin Lady? Carroll County: Popular Westminster bakery wagon needs a little help to get over hump.


BAKERS'HOURS are not to be confused with bankers' hours, Westminster's Linda Fisher can tell you. There are long and lonely nighttime hours, until the final stretch when you can sell the fresh-baked product to an awakening world.

"The Muffin Lady" is Ms. Fisher's sobriquet, earned from a year of traveling the city's morning streets, hawking her wares of steaming, fragrant muffins and buns. Her bakery baskets tied down to a Radio Flyer red wagon, she walks the seven-mile circuit around central Westminster daily to serve a growing clientele that hungers to taste her wares, whether "flavor of the day" muffins or "old reliable" cinnamon rolls.

A professional baker, Ms. Fisher started her shoe-leather sales route after losing a food service job at a retirement home in Westminster last year. The only jobs available were part-time and without benefits, so the plucky patissiere decided she could do better by selling home-baked goods directly to morning customers in offices and stores.

"I'm trying to build a business brick by brick," says Ms. Fisher, whose effective salesmanship as well as baking skills have built up her customer base. "Anytime somebody has a dream, a goal, an ambition, there are going to be a lot of obstacles in your path."

The current obstacle is putting together a documented business plan to get a small business loan from the bank. Enthusiastic customers have signed letters of reference, backing her effort to expand her bakery on wheels to surrounding communities and hire helpers.

Suggestions from supportive bun buyers prompted Ms. Fisher to raise her prices and to engage a friend to cover another Westminster route with her baked goods; one happy customer provided the red wagon that is now her trademark. Others recently helped her to move with her son to a rent-subsidized apartment in the city.

Now someone needs to take the next step, to help Ms. Fisher complete the loan paperwork or to find an alternate source of seed money to build on her modest success. This is the kind of personal effort and demonstrated achievement that deserves an extra boost, another helping hand, to achieve Ms. Fisher's dream of owning a viable business. Just a little more yeast from the community to make the dough rise.

Pub Date: 12/02/96

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