Neighborhood Nest bakery took risk at tough time, now celebrates 5-year mark

Founder Amber Tipton credits Fairborn customer base; talks authenticity and honesty in business

For some kids with food allergies, birthday cakes aren’t an option. Amber Tipton, founder of the Neighborhood Nest in Fairborn, is working to change that.

The Neighborhood Nest has become a staple in the Fairborn community, celebrating its five-year anniversary on Tuesday, and survived the pandemic with a business practice of radical honesty with its customers.

An alum of Sinclair Community College and the Spark Fairborn business incubator, Tipton has been creating her allergy-friendly baked goods for nearly a decade, after she and her daughter were diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Located at 313 W. Main St. in Fairborn, the Neighborhood Nest is a full-service dedicated gluten-free bakery, offering a selection of allergy-friendly breads, biscuits, bagels, cookies, cakes, pastries, and savory items for retail and wholesale.

However, all that could have ended earlier this year. At a time when a variety of small businesses closed their doors, pandemic repercussions and reduced retail sales meant the Neighborhood Nest was also struggling to make ends meet.

“I was starting to be like, ‘I don’t know that we can keep this up the way things are currently going,” she said.

Tipton turned to Facebook, and found her problem was not unusual. Multiple small businesses were closing, but some customers felt blindsided by the closures.

“So many of the small businesses, when they announced that they’re closing, the thread is hundreds of people long saying ‘I wish we’d known. We would have liked to help you stay in business. We don’t want to lose you,’” she said.

Hoping not to go down quietly, Tipton took a risk. In a long message on Facebook, Tipton outlined the ways in which the Neighborhood Nest was also facing post-pandemic economic struggles. Within days, the shop was overwhelmed with orders.

“We had a huge response,” she said. “I was like, Okay, this is humiliating and embarrassing, but I’m just going to put this out there and be like, ‘Here’s where we are, folks.’ ”

Authenticity has proved to be a good business strategy, particularly on the internet, she said.

“I think being real and honest with people, just being who you are and not trying to be this aloof business owner who looks like they have everything together ... that’s not how I conduct life,” Tipton said. “I’m a real life person. We struggle. It’s hard work.”

So now The Neighborhood Nest continues its work, which also includes a range of baked treats for dairy, nut, and other allergies, as well as keto and vegan options.

The Neighborhood Nest has extremely strict protocols to prevent cross-contamination, meaning the business is trusted by families with food allergies as a safe option for their favorite treats, Tipton said. Families from as far away as Chicago or Tennessee travel to Fairborn to get some of her allergy-friendly baked goods.

Tipton credits her customers, who she calls her “peeps,” and the Fairborn community for rallying around the Nest and other small businesses that have faced economic turmoil over the last few years.

“I’m super grateful for the community support and all of my peeps always stepping up when we have need, and keeping us there because if it weren’t for them, we would not be there.”

Preorders are available Tuesday through Sunday and can be picked up at the store’s Fairborn location. Retail hours are Wednesday to Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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