Helder, a 1985 Grand Haven High School graduate, opened New Creation Coffee, Cookies & Bars recently at 13040 U.S. 31, in the same strip mall as Mancino's.
Following appendix surgery last fall, Helder said she didn't want to return to her job as a Subway restaurant manager.
“I started praying about it and what I was supposed to do,” said Helder, who owns the coffee shop with her husband, Chris. “This is where God has led us.”
Many of the sweet treat recipes come from Chris' mom, Shirley. Tracy's sisters, son and nephew pitch in with production and operations.
“My family has just been wonderfully supportive through this whole thing,” Helder said.
Helder said the coffee shop is a bit of an evangelical platform, offering free Christian literature.
“I feel my gift from God is hospitality,” she said. “Every person that walks through the door is a blessing. They're not just a customer. We're here if they need help finding a church or if they need help, we steer them. I really feel God has moved me to minister this way.”
Helder said she has always enjoyed cooking and baking, but a life-changing event led her to opening the coffee shop.
“I had always believed in God, but had never owned it personally,” Helder said. “On Dec. 29, 2010, Jesus came and sat on my lap in the church and my life has been different ever since. He made me a new creation.”
She derived her business name from a verse in Corinthians that speaks about a new creation.
Helder started with coffee, then slowly added baked goods, including Shirley Helder's famous cherry bars.
“We bake something new every day,” Helder said. “We bake 95 percent of our stuff right here. We do candies, cookies, cupcakes and we're going to be doing cake decorating.”
If customers want to bring in a recipe they'd like to try, Helder and her family will make that, too. That was her son Joe's idea.
Next spring, she plans to add picnic catering with homemade salads and sandwiches.
“I think that's going to be good,” she said. “You can order a pizza anywhere. You can't call just anywhere and say I want fresh homemade macaroni salad.”
Helder said she expects business to pick up when school resumes next week. She hopes teachers, parents and students stop by to get coffee and treats.
“This is a great location,” she said. “Everyone in this strip mall is Christian. It's kind of amazing we all got in the same place.”