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Basement full of dough

A local baker is rolling out plans to open a cookie-dough factory in downtown Fargo next month. Tim Rice of Fargo is expanding his home-based cookie business to the basement of the Bison Hotel building at 413 Broadway.

Cookie dough

A local baker is rolling out plans to open a cookie-dough factory in downtown Fargo next month. Tim Rice of Fargo is expanding his home-based cookie business to the basement of the Bison Hotel building at 413 Broadway.

From there, he will mix up batch after batch of peanut butter chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cinnamon cookie dough to sell to businesses and individuals.

"I'm very, very confident that I'll be able to sell the cookies," said Rice, 54, who also works in the mortgage and financial services industry.

Rice will not do any baking at his new Sweet Comfort Products location. Instead, the focus is to make balls of cookie dough for customers to freeze and bake at their convenience.

Rice will sell cookie-dough balls by the two dozen and offer bulk packaging of 50 pounds of dough balls.

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Those hoping for a glimpse of a cookie-dough factory are out of luck, however.

Sweet Comfort Products won't be a retail store for customers to visit. Instead, Rice will take orders by phone or e-mail and provide delivery, a system he's had in place since business took off last fall.

"I just think people are looking for value. If you can bring value to the marketplace in exchange for their hard-earned money, they'll buy it," Rice said.

Rice's passion for cookies stems from serving in the military in 1973 and 1974. Watching military men clamor for mail and boxes of cookies from home, Rice saw the power of a cookie.

"Even when delivered a month from the oven in a crushed box, hardened men wept and crowds gathered to get a taste of some sweet comfort from home," Rice said.

Since then, he has enjoyed baking and sharing cookies with others. His hobby turned into a business when he brought cookies to a luncheon and left with an order for 30 dozen.

As word spread, he found himself with orders for 400-dozen cookies in December from businesses that wanted thank-you gifts for customers.

Perry Leier, owner of Superior Steam Cleaning in West Fargo, goes through about 30 dozen of Rice's cookies each week by giving them to customers. The cookies are "very good" and nicely packaged, Leier said.

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Steve Boyd, a pharmacist at Foss Drug in Moorhead, also gives Rice's cookies to various clients. The cookies are locally made and fresh, he said.

"We probably eat too many of them here, let's put it that way," Boyd said.

Just about any cookie is good, but "not all cookies are created equal," Rice said. He believes his knowledge of how to enhance flavor and his consistent dough are why his cookies are popular.

Rice hopes to have his new location ready for inspection by early April. He plans to work 20 to 25 hours per week to start and hopes to create a Web site in the future.

"My goal is to have the Sweet Comfort Products be my primary business," Rice said. "I fully intend to develop this into a brand."

Business profile

Sweet Comfort Products

- Owner: Tim Rice

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- Location: 413 Broadway, Fargo

- Phone: (701) 306-6178

- E-mail: sweetcom4t@gmail.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560

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