As smooth spheres of dough flatten out into rows of circles, they release the comforting scent of fresh baked cookies that permeates even into the hair salon next door. Natural light floods the room, illuminating local artwork on the walls.
Customers peruse the day’s baked goods behind a glass case and struggle over which one to pick.
When the warm center of a Cookie Brokers’ cookie melts in their mouths, they know they made the right choice.
Located on historic Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix, Cookie Brokers is an independently-run bakery that prides itself on giving back to the community while creating cookie creations completely from scratch.
Gilbert Tapia founded the bakery in March 2018 with only two bakers, including himself. Today, Cookie Brokers has five employees who make and sell hundreds of cookies every day.
“It’s about delivering an amazing product every day, being consistent and delivering on our commitments,” Tapia said. “If we say we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it, and it’s going to be delicious.”
Upon opening Cookie Brokers, one of Tapia’s main focuses was giving back to the community that gave so much to him.
“Somebody took the time to invest in me and help me grow personally and professionally, so I want to do that for everyone,” Tapia said.
All of the proceeds from Cookie Brokers’ T-shirt sales go to charity, and anything the bakery doesn’t sell is donated. Tapia hopes the business gains enough momentum in the future to donate a portion of their cookie sales as well.
In particular, the bakery works closely with Phoenix Inner City Kids (PICK), a local nonprofit that serves at-risk youth and their families in central and south Phoenix.
“Cookie Brokers Bakery is a great business and has been very generous to Phoenix Inner City Kids in many ways,” said Joan Gray, the Executive Director of PICK. “From the beginning of their startup, they’ve used their influence and resources to benefit the inner-city community.”
“That’s the foundation of cookie brokers,” Tapia said. “How do I give back? How do I do things for other people?
Not only is Tapia creating jobs and raising funds to help his community, but he also encourages young entrepreneurs to push through the hardships of running a small business.
“The mistakes I’ve made here in small business made me want to help others so they can avoid those mistakes,” Tapia said. “I really want to communicate, especially to younger people, that regardless of what you view as a negative, you can figure out how to turn it into a positive.”
Tapia’s policy of seeing the bright side applies to all aspects of his business, including competition. Not long after Cookie Brokers opened on March 17, 2018, Totally Baked Cookie Co., another cookie-centered bakery, moved in down the street.
“We didn’t see that as a negative, we saw it as a positive for the area. The more business that moves in the better. My goal is to make this area thrive,” Tapia said.
Cookie Brokers has helped downtown Phoenix thrive through its optimal location on Grand Avenue.
“I knew I wanted to be in downtown Phoenix, I wanted to be part of the change that’s happening down here,” Tapia said. “It’s been amazing for us because we service a lot of the big business in downtown Phoenix, so it’s the perfect access point to get to all parts of the Valley.”
Yuki Nakai, Cookie Brokers’ creative director, has experienced the impact Cookie Brokers has on the community first-hand.
“I like all the interactions with people, maybe someone’s having a crappy day and they eat a bite of our cookie and it brings a smile to their face, that makes me happy,” Nakai said.
In the future, Nakai hopes Cookie Brokers can expand their reach by building more locations throughout the Valley in order to “spread the good cookies.”
As for now, Cookie Brokers wants to attract more customers to their dining area for meetings, working remotely or just spending time with friends while enjoying a cup of coffee, a homemade cookie and free Wi-Fi.
“It’s a lot better than going into a conference room,” Nakai said.
Tapia feels confident in his business’ growth and credits it to the help of the Cookie Brokers team.
“The team that I have here is amazing. I push people to find their true potential, and sometimes that’s not always easy,” Tapia said. “They’ve really delivered and helped us grow.”
With the help of his employees and a drive to engage in his community, Tapia’s cookies are making the world just a little bit sweeter.
Cookie Brokers is located at 1325 Grand Ave and is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.