How Do You Buy Your Supplies?

Business By cakelady2266 Updated 20 Nov 2013 , 3:49am by BakingMaster

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cakelady2266 Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 4:42pm
post #1 of 12

Do most of you buy your supplies online or from a storefront retailer in your area? Some of both? Stuff like pans, bags, tips, boxes, colors, cutters etc...

I tend to buy most all my supplies from my local cake supply shop. But on occasion when they are out or it's something they don't carry, I order online. I hate ordering a $13 item and paying $10 in shipping, it gripes me.

I have rolled the idea around in my head for several years of opening my own supply shop. Not baking out of it, just sell supplies and maybe teach some classes. I'd like to continue baking from my commercial kitchen.

Does it sound feasible or have I lost my mind?

11 replies
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arlenej Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 5:39pm
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I don't know what your sales'd be like in Athens, Alabama, but here in the Caribbean I thought of the same thing. After all, the one cake supply shop we have never seems to have what I want in stock. I finally decided to hold classes so that I'd have customers on hand and ordered some items, only to discover that there're A LOT of people NOT interested in cake decorating classes. (Or at least, not interested in paying for said classes) So now I've a bunch of stuff on my hands that only I, and a VERY few other folk would want.. So d'you really think you'd have the sales to make the a worthwhile venture? If so, go for it. If not, well....your call.

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jason_kraft Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 6:47pm
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The local cake supply shop is the one place we don't buy our products...we buy mostly from our local restaurant supply store, cash & carry from the local distributor (BakeMark), online (Amazon, BRP, webstaurant store, Cook's Vanilla, etc.), Costco, Target, and occasionally Michaels.

If you plan your procurement in advance and track inventory carefully you can make larger purchases to save on shipping. In most cases, small cake supply stores are forced to charge higher prices than you can get on your own since they don't have much volume and they have to pay for the overhead of a retail store. These days it would be very tough for a retail store to survive on its own without being subsidized by an attached bakery.

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cakelady2266 Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 9:41pm
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There is one cake decorating supply store about 40 minutes away from me. They have been in business for about 40 years or more. They have always done a thriving business. I even took some classes there in 1990. The one thing I've noticed is they aren't staying current with the trends. Not many gumpaste cutters, books, tools etc...They are slow to order colors and flavorings when they are running low. They teach classes and sell cakes as well.

As for Michael's, Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby goes they carry Wilton products, of which I am not a fan.

Sometimes you have something come up last minute that you can't get shipped to you in time.


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jason_kraft Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 10:02pm
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Many small cake decorating supply stores have been around for a long time, but with the recent upswing in popularity more mainstream stores have expanded their stock of cake decorating supplies, and the internet has made it much easier for individuals to order specialty supplies.

There were two cake decorating supply stores in the San Jose area (with about 1 million people in the immediate area), one has closed within the last year and the other does wedding cakes and classes (which is probably subsidizing the retail end). Both have been in the community for several decades.

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cakelady2266 Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 7:31pm
post #6 of 12

The mainstream stores within a 100 mile radius of me, like Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby and Michael's carry only Wilton supplies. And everybody who has ever picked up a icing bag knows there is much better out there to be had.

As far restaurant supply stores nearby, there are none. There is a cash and carry wholesaler that carries baking supplies but not bags, tips, boxes, pans and the like you would need to actually decorate a cake, cupcakes or cookies.

I'm betting there aren't many hobby or home bakers that order everything off the internet. Sometimes if you see an item in person and get a good look at it, you can decide if you have a use for it. Or perhaps see something you never knew existed and now must have it.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about....I buy Magic Line butter vanilla flavoring emulsion by the gallon at my local supply store (not mainstream) for $75.00 but online the cheapest I can get it is $100.00 PLUS shipping. And I'd like to add it is always out of stock online.

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jason_kraft Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 7:55pm
post #7 of 12
Originally Posted by cakelady2266

Here is an example of what I'm talking about....I buy Magic Line butter vanilla flavoring emulsion by the gallon at my local supply store (not mainstream) for $75.00 but online the cheapest I can get it is $100.00 PLUS shipping. And I'd like to add it is always out of stock online.

GSA has it in stock for $50/gallon plus shipping.

EDIT: Oops, that would be $50 for a half gallon, so you're right about the $100/gallon price online.

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cakelady2266 Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 8:58pm
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Sorry Jason that link took me to 16 ounce bottles of butter vanilla. The only gallon of anything from Magic Line was for 1 gallon of white icing for $50.00

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scp1127 Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 5:44am
post #9 of 12

I get many gourmet items online and the prices are so much lower than retail stores. Gourmet chocolate, vanilla bean paste, cutters, cupcake liners, pans, extracts, fondant, boxes, etc. Almost everything can be purchased on Amazon or Ebay with free shipping. What does have shipping can usually be overcome by a larger quantity. But I know how to search these things out and they only take minutes to find the best deal from reputable dealers.

Ages about 45 and below, plus the younger you go, are much more internet savvy and have no problem getting anything they want at a good rate. You may not have these people as customers. Like me, they want something, google it, and it's at the house in 4 or 5 days at a better-than-retail rate.

Of course if there was a shop that had exactly what I wanted, I would buy it, even at a slightly higher rate. But how often is a store going to have that exact thing when the decorating industry offers so much? But, you could very easily stock items where you have displayed the final product and inspire sales.

A successful cake supply store in my area carries only the older style decorating supplies. This woman is smart and is up on current trends. She also has a trendy cupcake shop at another location. My guess, and I'm sure she would tell me, is that she is stocking what customers buy. I'm sure that she sells to an older crowd that is not using the web.

Anytime you want to know the facts about retail, start studying certain cities that are similar or slightly bigger than your own. If you research enough, you will find patterns and trends. Just how many cake supply stores carry more than the basics? Do any carry the very latest products? How big are the stores? If you track for more than a year, like I do, you will find how many go out of business and how many are added, giving you a somewhat definitive answer on the trend and viability. Maybe the tried and true cake supplies are the big sellers.

I don't mean to always be the black cloud of the replies. Everything I suggest, I do myself. I just point out the scarier "what if's".

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wespam Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 12:11pm
post #10 of 12

My cake shop is a retail location about 45 minutes the opposite direction from you and Lynelles. I love going into her shop and pouring over all the cookie cutters and candy molds. She carries alot of hidden gems, you just have to ask. She has more stuff than she has room for so sometimes it's pretty messy in there. I buy wholesale through CK Products so I don't buy a lot of supplies from her unless I just need a last minute something or other.

The only requests I have gotten over the past 5 years for any type of supplies from customers is for cake boxes and cake toppers. I always buy my boxes in large quanities so I'm happy to sell someone a box if I have their size. For me the investment in space and overhead, and someone to help order, price, put it on shelves, keep it dusted and ring it up would outway any real profits. Have a blessed day,

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cakelady2266 Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 6:20pm
post #11 of 12're not a black cloud on the subject. I have rolled this idea around and keep chewing but I'm not ready to spit it out just yet. I'm still in the research process so your advise is very welcome.

When I go into a store I pay close attention to others in there, what they are buying and their ages. I was surprised to see so many younger people (way under 45) buying what I would consider to be dated and not the current trend items. I'm not sure if that is all they think exist or if it what they like or if it's more affordable. But in the internet age it seemed odd.

I was in the cake store (not a chain) Saturday picking up a few things when I noticed they were doing some prep work for upcoming classes. They were going to be making stars out of royal icing much to my surprise. That was something I learned in class in 1989. I haven't made a batch of royal icing in over 2 years. Using fondant to cut out things like stars, dot, numbers and everything else is this the easiest, fastest most sensible way to go. So if I were teaching classes I would teach the most modern way of doing things. I would teach things like, how to smooth ice buttercreams, making fondant figurines, bows, gumpaste and flowers flowers, buttercream and royal icing flowers, how to use a cricut cutter. All kinds of stuff.

Very seldom have I found anything online cheaper than I could get it from my local decorating store and without the wait.

I think I'm looking down the road for some security in case my some of joints can't take standing for hours on end doing cakes any longer. I thought since I know the cake business then retail sale of goods and classes would be a logical choice. But I'm still researching it.

wespam......I'm pretty much smack dab in between Birmingham and Nashville. If Lynelle's (whom I've done business with for years) doesn't have what I need, I have to order online. Sweetwise and Louise's is 100 miles in either direction, I don't usually make a special trip to get something for either one of them but if I'm in their area I always stop by.

The store I have in mind would have Magic Line and Fat Daddios cake pans, agbay's, Ateco turntable, stencils, edible prints, Magic Line and other great brands flavors, Guittard and other quality chocolates, high ratio shortenings, cake bling, unique stands, quality bags and tips, impression mats, fondant & gumpaste tools, pasta rollers, ready made gumpaste flowers, candy molds, Isomelt products, Sugarveil, cute candles, cake toppers, monograms, cake boxes etc. I'm not really wanting to carry things like character pans, plastic cupcake picks, things of that nature.

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BakingMaster Posted 20 Nov 2013 , 3:49am
post #12 of 12

The best online supply store is   They have everything you could ever need and will even special order whatever you could imagine.  They even make molds and will make specialty molds as well.  By far the best prices I have found, and very speedy with shipping! Hope you find what you need! :)

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