I Feel So Defeated.

Business By fsinger84 Updated 25 Jun 2010 , 12:23am by Jenniferkay

fsinger84 Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 8:49am
post #1 of 21

A bit of background. Last year after deciding my career track was making me unhappy I decided to move back to my hometown to open a cupcake business. I was unemployed for seven months but I used that as an opportunity to really learn what would be needed to start a business and develop my recipes. I finally got a full time job so I could start saving up money to find a commercial kitchen to rent. I had a few prospects for kitchens but nothing has ever come though so I decided to try out the farmers market. Almost every week since the market has opened, I work my full time job of 40 hours then come home and bake cupcakes for the market another 10-15 hours on top of my regular job but I love it, it seriously makes me so happy.

I found out about a month ago that a cupcake chain with three other locations (two in other states one in my state) has decided to open a store in my town. I feel like I have been punched in the stomach. Some company is doing what I wanted to do, but I could not do because I did not have the money. I drove by where their storefront will be and it is in a good area (downtown) and the windows were all covered in paper and a moving truck was unloading equipment into the location. I am at a loss, I feel defeated and unsure of what to do.

Right now, I will stick to the farmers market, which is the only legal way to sell without a kitchen (no delivery but people can order in advance for pick up at the market). I have a facebook and twitter page to get some more business in the works. Each week I pick four of the 22 flavors on my menu to feature at the market. Business has been good.

I feel that there are several ways my business plan would be competitive, but I feel like the window of opportunity may have passed. I will list below some of the differences, PLEASE give me some advice. Thanks for listening to the rant.

Delivery: They have a storefront with delivery available only on orders of 10doz or more and charge $50. I would prefer to do delivery only, at least to start and I would have a minimum order of two dozen for delivery and certainly charge less than $50.

Flavors: They offer seven flavors every day with two weekly rotating flavors. Special orders can only be placed for the flavors available that week. I would offer 22 flavors + seasonal flavors.

Customization: They do not offer any customization, they only allow you to order the cupcakes how they come no switching up icings either. I would offer custom wrappers, liners and toppers made of candy melts, and icing tinting, basically anything the customer would think of I would try to do.

Size: They offer one size of cupcake. I would offer mini, regular, jumbo and cupcake cake sizes (the ones baked in two pans not cupcake cakes).

20 replies
leepat Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 10:04am
post #2 of 21

Go for it! There are a lot of legal bakers and bakeries in my home town and there is plent of business to go around. Just remember you will probably not make a profit for the first 3 years so make sure you have back up income. Your customers will love the fact they that you offer the different service and types of cupcakes.

terrig007 Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 10:46am
post #3 of 21

A lot of people would rather buy from someone locally at the Farmer's Market (like me). I think you have a better business plan (you offer more choice for the consumer) and the big cupcake box store is limited.
I know it is discouraging to see that store come in and I know they'll probably be busy when they first open but I feel people won't be happy with just a few things they can choose from.

Occther Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 10:56am
post #4 of 21

Look at it as positive for your business. Once people realize what a hot item cupcakes are and hear about your farmer's market offerings and prices, it could really boost your sales.

pattycakes55d Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 10:59am
post #5 of 21

good for you. This is not a bad thing at all. You have a lot of things going for you. Here's some things that I have learned. they might help you. Competition is good as people will be able to have something to measure against. The cupcake chain probably doesn't bake from scratch and their fillings would probably be bought in bulk. I don't mean to say it's bad people just that homemade is a different option. It seems to me that they are more concerned with the money. Their overhead will be high so their prices will reflect their need. You live there and have already built relationships within your community. I think you could set yourself apart by offering good quality homemade cupcakes and fillings and superb customer service. Further develop your presence with colors or symbols that go on all your boxes, stickers, etc. Think of other things that could set you apart.

There's enough business for everyone so don't think in lack. Don't bad mouth or say anything negative when even speaking with your friends. Be above that. You could start revising your marketing plan as they will probably have an opening special. Have a special offering a 15% discount if someone places an order by June 25th for August or September. Develop your facebook page You can pm me if you'd like more ideas. I'm sure more experienced cakers will chime in here too. Good luck and smile.

littlecake Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 1:42pm
post #6 of 21

theres more than enough business to go around....they chain store will pull in a different demographic.

cheatize Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 1:59pm
post #7 of 21

They are the McDonald's of cupcakes, you are the personal chef of cupcakes (in comparison). They will take care of the spur-of-the-moment purchases while you provide customized service. I think you'll be fine; just play up your strengths to your market.

Lenette Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 1:59pm
post #8 of 21

The same thing happened to me! I have a cake business and wanted so much to open a shop with specialty cupcakes but we didn't have the $$$. Well someone else had "daddy's checkbook" and opened a place downtown. I have been racking my brain to come up with a way to compete as the rents here are so expensive (it's VERY rare to find spaces here for under $1000 per month just in rent). I just don't want to be strapped with that kind of obligation.

So, I have been thinking about cupcake delivery but not sure how it will fly as I would have a dozen minimum. I am a little cheaper than they are but taste just as good and some of my flavors are better.

My grandparents used to say "nothing fails but a try" so I am thinking about sticking my neck out there to see if I can make it work.

Anywhoo, sorry for the long post but just wanted to let you know I truly feel your pain! Best wishes to you!

2SchnauzerLady Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:22pm
post #9 of 21

Just remember that you are now established with the demographic of those who frequent farmers markets. The store downtown will have a different demographic. And if one of your regulars happens to buy from the store, they will realized they have more options with you.

EllieA Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 2:59pm
post #10 of 21

Isn't it wonderful? If a big chain decided to open a cupcake store in your town, it can only mean that they think there is potential there! And that will bring attention to cupcakes to all who pass by! So what you have to do is keep on doing what you are doing, only add a couple of pamphlets and distribute them to the stores around the Farmer's Market and people passing by! I would not be ashamed to write: We are better than ... whatever the big store is - we pay attention to the small details and we customize! Our cupcakes are MADE WITH LOVE!!!!!!!! The one thing I would recommend is that you don't extend yourself too much. To say that you do 22 flavors in one week is fine but the work would burn you out in no time and you do not want to do that! They have 7? You have 4 that you bake and 4, IF YOU HAVE ORDERS FOR THEM!

If you don't have a great logo and a signature sentence, come up with one and have it embroidered on your apron, your sign and your flyers!

Good luck means being prepared for the worse case scenario!

EllieA Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 3:00pm
post #11 of 21

Isn't it wonderful? If a big chain decided to open a cupcake store in your town, it can only mean that they think there is potential there! And that will bring attention to cupcakes to all who pass by! So what you have to do is keep on doing what you are doing, only add a couple of pamphlets and distribute them to the stores around the Farmer's Market and people passing by! I would not be ashamed to write: We are better than ... whatever the big store is - we pay attention to the small details and we customize! Our cupcakes are MADE WITH LOVE!!!!!!!! The one thing I would recommend is that you don't extend yourself too much. To say that you do 22 flavors in one week is fine but the work would burn you out in no time and you do not want to do that! They have 7? You have 4 that you bake and 4, IF YOU HAVE ORDERS FOR THEM!

If you don't have a great logo and a signature sentence, come up with one and have it embroidered on your apron, your sign and your flyers!

Good luck means being prepared for the worse case scenario!

cylstrial Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 5:22pm
post #12 of 21

Think about it this way. There are so many Starbucks Coffee Shops, but yet there are tons of little coffee shops too. They survive and so can you! You already mentioned several ways that you are different from the up-and-coming store. Just keep finding ways to be different, and you will be fine! You're just going to get more and more established and get more and more orders. You can do it!

Mindy1975 Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 6:20pm
post #13 of 21

Just keep referring yourself as the non-grocery store baker and you will be fine! I have to tell myself that all the time, and I remind myself all the time that I am the only one in my county that doesn't get my cakes delivered in frozen before I decorate them! You have so much going for you! Like Cylstrial says....just keep being different!

neelycharmed Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 6:43pm
post #14 of 21

Go for it! icon_smile.gif
Hope it all works out for you,
Jodi

Melvira Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 7:02pm
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieA

I would not be ashamed to write: We are better than ... whatever the big store is -




Just my opinion here, though I love the sentiment, I would NOT say that. If I were the owner of XYZ cupcake factory and you actually said you were better than me, I'd probably sue you. Or issue a cease and desist. I believe there are actually laws that prevent making those sort of statements.

You CAN however say something to the effect of; 'we handle your orders personally' 'Made fresh, JUST for YOU!' 'Here at ABC cupcakes, it's about QUALITY, not QUANTITY'. Any of those types of statements. You can't really come right out and say they suck, you just say why YOU'RE the better choice without calling them to the carpet.

And yes, someone opening that in your town means there is potential. Keep on keepin' on and knock their cupcake liners off! icon_lol.gif

EllieA Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 7:42pm
post #16 of 21

You are right! Okay .. then say: We are better than the BIG stores that don't give you the personalized service we do! icon_wink.gif))

Melvira Posted 23 Jun 2010 , 8:15pm
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieA

You are right! Okay .. then say: We are better than the BIG stores that don't give you the personalized service we do! icon_wink.gif))




Awesome! That's exactly the way to go! thumbs_up.gif

Yum2010 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 5:09pm
post #18 of 21

Just to make you feel better, I was faced with a very similar situation and I what you described was right on....I felt literally "punched in the stomach" especially after working so hard saving money to achieve your dream. I do custom cakes, cookies, cupcakes, etc. and am doing it as a side job in addition to my regular full time job. I saved and saved for years to be able to build a certified kitchen to get "legal" so to speak. And then Wal-Mart and another bakery opened up in my very small town right when my shop was just about finished. I was soooo nervous especially since I knew there was no way I could compete with Wal-Mart and the other bakery's pricing. But, I am very proud to say that I am still going strong, I have not lost a single customer and I consistantly still get new ones. Even in my tiny little town on the bayou, there is plenty enough business to go around. The fact that you do a highly customized product will pull you through, TRUST ME! The customers that want this, will continue to seek you out. Go for it!!

ksmith1012 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 5:48pm
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvira

Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieA

I would not be ashamed to write: We are better than ... whatever the big store is -



Just my opinion here, though I love the sentiment, I would NOT say that. If I were the owner of XYZ cupcake factory and you actually said you were better than me, I'd probably sue you. Or issue a cease and desist. I believe there are actually laws that prevent making those sort of statements.

You CAN however say something to the effect of; 'we handle your orders personally' 'Made fresh, JUST for YOU!' 'Here at ABC cupcakes, it's about QUALITY, not QUANTITY'. Any of those types of statements. You can't really come right out and say they suck, you just say why YOU'RE the better choice without calling them to the carpet.

And yes, someone opening that in your town means there is potential. Keep on keepin' on and knock their cupcake liners off! icon_lol.gif





thumbs_up.gif

cakesdivine Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:05pm
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvira

Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieA

I would not be ashamed to write: We are better than ... whatever the big store is -



Just my opinion here, though I love the sentiment, I would NOT say that. If I were the owner of XYZ cupcake factory and you actually said you were better than me, I'd probably sue you. Or issue a cease and desist. I believe there are actually laws that prevent making those sort of statements.

You CAN however say something to the effect of; 'we handle your orders personally' 'Made fresh, JUST for YOU!' 'Here at ABC cupcakes, it's about QUALITY, not QUANTITY'. Any of those types of statements. You can't really come right out and say they suck, you just say why YOU'RE the better choice without calling them to the carpet.

And yes, someone opening that in your town means there is potential. Keep on keepin' on and knock their cupcake liners off! icon_lol.gif




I agree with M. Do NOT advertise that you are better! We had a local bakery that is now defunked, out and out put on their advertising that they were 1000 times better than Ace of Cakes and also put that they were the only true cake artists in the area, and all other cakers were mearly cake decorators.

It was unbelievable as their cakes were very subpar, and it wound up they were a ripoff company that bilked many brides out of thousands of dollars. But they honestly put it out there that they were better, and went so far as to put cakes from other sites on their site and claimed them as their creations.

I am not saying however that your cuppies aren't better because they probably are, and you certainly are offering so much more. Nor am I saying that if you do use that tactic of advertising that you will be the type of comany they were. Just giving an example.

Let the amenities that you offer be your selling points. so please don't take the advice of saying you are better than them tactic. It tends to put people off, and then forces you to live up to that statement. And honestly there will be some people out there that will prefer them. We can't please everyone, everytime.

Jenniferkay Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 12:23am
post #21 of 21

I wouldn't let it get you down. Everybody has different cake...that's why there's so many of us cakers! People come to you because they like your cake and your icing. The new store's cake and icing will be different, some people will like it, some won't. This is an opportunity for you! A big business is bringing to light your little company! Keep your head up, keep doing what you do best and all will fall in line. No worries!

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