Grand Central Bakery: A Mission for All Ages

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A Pacific Northwest company ensures that its values will never be compromised

Grand Central Bakery was founded by Gwyneth Bassetti in Seattle in 1989 as a family-owned business; her son, Ben Davis, opened its first Portland, Oregon, location a few years later. Today, the company has 11 locations and a retail presence throughout the Pacific Northwest. But Bassetti and family are no longer the owners.

The change happened this past summer, when ownership was transferred to something called a “perpetual purpose trust.” If the term is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone: Perpetual purpose trusts didn’t exist before 2017 and are still a relative rarity, available in only five states. The structure was created by the nonprofit Purpose Foundation, which describes it as “a non-charitable trust that is established for the benefit of a mission rather than a person.”

In Grand Central’s case, that mission is “to balance profit and purpose and to run our business in a way that is sustainable and makes a positive impact on the world,” according to its website. In formulating a succession plan, the owners wanted to eliminate any chance that the company would someday wind up in the hands of new owners who would abdicate its mission, focus on growth at all cost, and create disruption for employees, vendors and the community. The perpetual trust structure ensures that Grand Central can never be sold and will always be run according to its values.


At the time of its founding, Grand Central was a pioneer in the artisan bread movement, using locally sourced products from small-scale growers and producers, with a view to benefiting consumers and the local economy. Over the years, it expanded its philanthropic purview to promoting sustainable agriculture, immigrant rights, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in its hiring and promoting practices and its dealings with vendors.

Grand Central is a major funder of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which helps asylum seekers in Washington State navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system. The company’s Community Loaf program encourages customers to purchase a loaf of its signature Whole Wheat Goldendale bread to be delivered to local food banks and pantries. And it underwrites and raises money for nonprofits that support Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities. A case in point: its support of the Blueprint Foundation, which gives Black urban youth hands-on exposure to the outdoors and opportunities they often don’t have to explore careers in environmental science.

Grand Central Bakery is neither a large nor geographically far-flung enterprise. But in living its brand in perpetuity, Carpenter Group sees a company whose mission extends beyond generations, national borders and the bottom line.


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About Brand Acts of Kindness® 

Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.

The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.

About Carpenter Group

Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.

Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.