As you may have seen this past week, our plaza neighbours The ‘Shed Market have closed their doors permanently. With short notice to their loyal customers, they shut their doors one last time on Sunday, March 19, 2017. Just two years and a month I believe since they first welcomed people to their delicious smoke-filled and local kitchen. We will miss our foodie neighbours – and you, our customers, will surely miss the convenience of one stop shopping – The ‘Shed for dinner, and the Cupcakery for dessert.
Late in 2016, another south end small business closed, Lucie’s Bakery. Lucie’s had been in operation (if I remember correctly) for more than 8+ years in the plaza just south of us, and north of Lowes Road. From what we heard this space is still available for rent as a stand alone building. We never saw Lucie’s as the competition and often I would pick up croissants or bagels for myself. They had many loyal customers too, who sought their gluten free desserts and homestyle breads.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting the new franchisee owners of Orange Theory Fitness and Freshii at Clair & Gordon. Somewhat different to the start of our small business, they’re process for starting up did have some similarities. In conversation, we talked about heavy start up costs, and long lease terms as barriers to enter the market. Even with the support of their franchise brand, these hurdles can be insurmountable for many.
With these two small businesses closing, it forces me to reflect. Sweet Temptations Cupcakery signed our lease agreement in October 2013, with hopes of being open for Christmas the same year. It wasn’t until January 10, 2014 when we first opened our doors. Amidst, the chaos of opening it was just a few short weeks later we decided that 7 days a week would be our operating schedule.
As a small business owner, I see our business facing pressures and demands to keep up with trends, meet revenue targets (translation read: make rent), staffing challenges, and maintain competitive advantage over like businesses. Myself and our team works tirelessly to try to be professional, deliver warm service, an exceptional product all with the reliability of a national brand. We aren’t always successful, and we try to remain humble and honest with our mistakes. We do not have the support of a national brand, nor the internal marketing powerhouses, or laser-precision standards of enormous chains. We are one store, run by a small group of dedicated and loyal cupcake fans. We’ve employed young men and women, hired co-op students from local high schools and the UoG, and have been able to welcome new staff for their first ever job – a responsibility to teach a work ethic and accountability I don’t take lightly. It isn’t too long ago for me to remember my first ever job, and know that what they learn here, can last with them throughout their lifetime.
It is hard for me to witness the closing of these neighbouring small businesses like The ‘Shed and Lucie’s Bakery. It raises fear in my heart about the future of my business, and the future of Sweet Temptations Cupcakery. I feel grateful and give thanks to the opportunities we’ve found, and all of you, our customers who make it possible along the way. I feel proud of the accomplishments and growth we’ve seen since our first day at the Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market in May 2011, and I feel pride when I see our food truck, Sprinkle, parked outside.
Being a small business owner is not without its challenges, ups and downs, super highs, and deep lows. I appreciate you treating yourself to cupcakes and being along for the journey – without you, not only myself, but more importantly our staff wouldn’t be able to call our Cupcakery their workplace. Ultimately, we wouldn’t be able celebrate every day with you.
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Thank you for all that you do, see you soon friends!
PS – Our new plaza neighbours we’ve heard will be a lawyers office, and we look forward to meeting them. I wonder if they’ll make tasty sandwiches for lunch for us too!
PPS – We’re hiring, for the summer (peak cupcake season is May – October), we’re always looking for young people eager to learn who are returning to school in the fall. Know someone who may interested? Drop off a resume with cover letter in person at the Cupcakery at your convenience.