Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Small Business Spotlight: The Cupcake Shoppe

After riding a high PR wave with the likes of introducing President Obama at a rally in Raleigh and giving away over 3,000 cupcakes as a way to thank customers for two years of business, The Cupcake Shoppe on Glenwood Avenue continues to add charm to downtown and look toward the future.

Although the store is closed on Sundays and Mondays, proprietress Sara Coleman (above) works every day. She uses the time to get caught up on emails, planning, and other paperwork that is difficult to attend to during the week.

She opened the unique dessert boutique two years ago, and was drawn to the location because of the active and planned residential construction, in addition to the number of other businesses in the area.

Opening a business in a highly trafficked area is certainly not enough to ensure success; one has to sell a great product with value in addition to  providing great service. The Cupcake Shoppe delivers on both counts.

One of the elements of the product aspect is the process, as Sara explains:

We bake everything from scratch and don’t use any mixes. This makes the process more difficult because it doesn’t have stabilizers and preservatives like a cake mix. Sometimes it’s difficult to get the texture of a cake, especially when throwing in weird ingredients.

And if you thought making delicious and unique cupcakes is as easy as throwing together things that taste good, she also sets the record straight:

It’s not as easy as it sounds. You can’t just take any flavor and make it into a cupcake. Baking is certainly more of a science than an art. With leavening agents and other factors, there are several things that come into play — including what the weather is like outside. As an example, in the more humid months it’s difficult to do a heavy fruit-based cake.

Although the process of creating cupcakes can be rather scientific, the ideas that lead to the flavors aren’t always so. When asked about how ideas become tasty treats, Sara stated that it can be as easy as thinking about a popular drink or candy bar, or even a dessert that your grandmother made. Sometimes it can be more spontaneous, such as finding an idea when she is strolling the aisles of a grocery store.

One way she keeps the process interesting is the way that customers are involved. On a recent visit was a suggestion box, which allowed cupcake enthusiasts to suggest their own favorite flavors that could possibly occupy the shelves behind the glass counter. The person submitting the lucky winning flavor is given not only a dozen cupcakes, but a t-shirt too.

Sara and the rest of the staff at the Cupcake Shoppe aren’t just sitting around thinking of new flavors, they are also looking at expanding business beyond the storefront retail, event and wedding clientele they currently serve.

Of the few ideas under consideration, one in particular stood out as something exciting – an ice cream/cupcake cart on street corners around downtown late night. The store is open late night on Fridays and Saturdays, but we may soon see an ice dessert push cart or trike present at concerts, events, and around the hot spots late night.

There is a good amount of permitting issues and red tape involved in such a venture, but it’s one of a few currently being looked in to.

Until then, pay the store a visit for a unique way to cure your sweet tooth.

Follow The Cupcake Shoppe on Twitter and Facebook.