Laid off from his high-end retail gig Toronto man starts up family bakery business

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A Toronto man laid off from his luxury retail job has started up a family bakery business, and some of his products have been selling out in just a couple of hours.

Chuck Johnson (above on the left, in the hat) is behind Johnson Family Bakery, a baking business he started a few months ago. And it very much is a family business. Chuck does the baking, his wife helps out with signage and bagging, and one son does deliveries.

"The real force behind this is the family," the website says. "Without the family, I'm not getting up at 1 a.m. to bake, or sell, or blog, or any of these things."

"The love and pride of your children is very powerful stuff."

Johnson trained at the Stratford Chef School in his twenties, but disillusioned with the industry and the challenges of his dream of opening a restaurant, didn't complete the program and immediately moved to Toronto, where he began a career at Harry Rosen.

Sadly, the store kept going in and out of lockdown throughout 2020, and the management role Johnson had worked his way up to over 20 years was restructured during the summer. He and much of the other staff were laid off after the end-of-year lockdowns.

It was in January, while homeschooling his three children, that Johnson got into baking bread, giving loaves away to friends and neighbours.

In early March, friend Chris Murie, whose children go to school with Johnson's and owns pub The Dizzy, suggested Johnson use his patio space to sell his baked goods, "and basically kicked the whole project into gear" according to Johnson.