My Biz: Mount Vernon shop blends local art and shortbread

Cookies gaining fans in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City

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Published: December 6 2012 | 6:00 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:01 am in
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If Ann Booth had a calling card, it would look like a piece of shortbread.

Booth once told a friend she wanted to own a shop that offered “the perfect blend” of gifts, merchandise, needlework, antiques and cookies. The phrase stuck, with her Scottish shortbread becoming part of the business.

Booth used to sell homemade sugar cookies, but after a friend of hers returned from England with a shortbread mold and accompanying recipe, Booth decided to give the butter-rich cookies a try.

“I’ve changed the recipe since then,” she noted. “I’ve taken out a lot of the sugar.”

Her shop, Perfect Blend Gift Shop and Homemade Scottish Shortbread, sells antiques on the second floor of the historic, 1853 redbrick building, and paintings and prints in the first floor art gallery. The shortbread counter is in the cozy dining room.

“We bought this building in 1997,” Booth explained, “and opened for business in 1998.”

The gallery is the newest aspect of the business and features the paintings and multimedia art of Mt. Vernon and Lisbon artists, and is the responsibility of Booth’s daughter, Sarah Fried, who recently returned to Iowa to join her mother in the business.

“We have a really good system,” Booth said, recalling they recently worked for four hours straight to get orders ready for a customer.

“I was making the shortbreads and she was baking them — timing the ovens for me and keeping everything moving along smoothly,” she said.

Orders for the shortbread easily can number anywhere from 250 to 350 pieces needed at a time.

“Right now things are really heating up,” she said. “My shortbread is now at the New Bo Market in Cedar Rapids through the Egg Basket folks from Kalona.”

Additionally, the shortbread cookies are sold through New Pioneer Co-op in Coralville as well as the University Hospitals, among other locations. Additional markets are under development, she said.

Production of large quantities of the shortbread is labor intensive, and Booth said it is not uncommon for her to be hefting 40 pounds of flour or 36 pounds of butter about the small kitchen area.

Owner: Ann Booth, owner

Company: Perfect Blend Gift Shop and Homemade Scottish Shortbread

Address: 224 First St. S.W., Mount Vernon

Phone: (319) 895-6862

Know a manager or company in business for more than a year that should be considered for “My Biz”? Contact business editor Michael Chevy Castanova at michael.castranova@sourcemedia.net.

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