Like many small business stories, the story of The Knock Shoppe begins with a few important things — a strong partnership, a great idea, hard work, and a bit of risk.
The Knock Shoppe’s owners, John and Joanne Knoch, met in high school. They had grown up on neighboring farms in central Wisconsin, and quickly became high school sweethearts. They decided farming wasn’t quite for them, so they went to college — Joanne for Accounting, John for Physics — with the goal to get a job in the space program. By the time graduation rolled around, employment in the space program was hard to come by, and after sending out 200 applications with a limited response back, the Knoch’s weren’t sure what to do next. After a conversation with Joanne’s parents one Sunday night, they decided to dive back into farming. A few years into it, they decided to buy Joanne’s family’s cucumber farm.
One day, John and Joanne’s five-year-old twin boys were jumping on the couch and broke it. A friend suggested to Joanne that she take a woodworking class with her so she could fix her couch herself. Looking at the technical college’s brochure, Joanne decided to take not one, but three classes: the woodworking class, and upholstery class (the couch cushions needed some work, too), and a cake decorating class. At 30 years old, and with four children, Joanne wanted to have fun and learn something new!
Out of the three classes, the cake decorating class is the one she in love with. Over the next few years, she took several more cake decorating classes — and when a good friend said they were getting married, Joanne offered to do the cake. After the success of that 500-serving cake, she did more and more cakes over the years, and started to exhibit at bridal shows — all the while always wondering how she could display her cakes in a way that would make them look even better.
A thought came into her head at one point — “what if I put lights in the cake stands?” After toying with the idea for a bit, that woodworking class she had taken all those years ago became even more useful. She used that knowledge to come up with an acrylic cake stand with lights in the pillars. The very first bride that used the stand said (with tears in her eyes!) the cake was “so beautiful they didn’t want to cut it.” A short time later, a mother of a bride suggested she patent the stands — and she kept hearing the same thing from others who would visit her showroom. After a bit of thought (and some insurance money that came in from a recent farm crop failure) — she went ahead and applied what would be the first of two patents — one for the illuminated cake stands, and one for the cake lighting system.
Several years later, The Knock Shoppe continues to innovate — there are nearly 50 different cake stand systems. One of the main goals for John and Joanne early on was that they didn’t want to make things and operate like the big companies making cake stands. All of The Knock Shoppe’s products are integrated with each other, meaning they can be mixed and matched from different stands and collections in countless ways. The systems are sold worldwide to bakers, cake decorators, and rental stores as well as individual customers.
The cake systems have been sold in almost every state in the U.S. as well as several countries — Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Guatemala, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, the Middle East, England, Germany, and Russia.
We Want To See You
We travel throughout the country to wedding expos every year, and have a few favorites that we attend annually — the ICES, IBIE, and the Rental Show. If you’ll be in these cities on the dates below, we’d love if you’d stop into our booths and say hello!
International Cake Exploration Societé (ICES)
Annual Convention & Show
Little Rock, Arkansas
July 19—21, 2019
International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE)
Las Vegas, Nevada
September 8—11, 2019
Booth #: 1909
Durable & Made in the USA
Have you ever stood on one of your cake stands? We’re guessing not, but you could certainly stand on ours (if you were so inclined)!
Yes, that is John, at over 240 pounds*, standing on one of our 7: diamond mini quads with two 7” diamond crystal plates.
*Note: John is a trained professional. Please don’t try this at your hall!