I’ve been promising to write this blog for quite a while, and I think the time has finally come. When I started decorating about 25 years ago, there were very few places to buy cake supplies. You HAD to go to cake supply and restaurant supply stores to buy things. Then Wilton products moved into Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Walmart and other craft stores. Decorators rejoiced. We could use coupons on our products and were so happy. I remember going every week with a 40% off coupon and buying one pan…for months…back when having a bakery was just a dream in my heart. I never once thought about the lost sales for my cake supply store or how it might affect them.
These days, Satin Ice is now available at craft and grocery stores. Hobby Lobby has created their own tool line and are selling products incredibly cheap. At first, we all rejoice. Then I started talking to the owners of cake supply stores. Many are barely getting by. Some have closed over the last few years. This makes me incredibly sad.
“But the cake supply store charges too much for the products”. The supply stores don’t have the buying power of a Walmart and they never will. Sometimes the big stores are selling things for less than the cake store buys it for. Can you imagine? When the cake store adds a reasonable profit onto the price they pay (remember, they have just as much right and NEED as you to make money), it looks like they are gouging the customer. But they aren’t.
I’m writing this to ask you to keep shopping at your local cake shop, even if it costs you a little more. Think about the extras you get from your local shop. They help you figure out what you need to buy to create the cake in the picture you bring in. They dispense advice on a regular basis and you don’t pay a dime for that. They tell you how to use the products. Guide you so that you don’t buy things you don’t need. Help you find the tools that make your life easier. I’ve been in my local shop many times and watched them walk people through making their own wedding cake, figure out what items are worth buying in bulk, and so much more. They placed special orders for me and other customers so that we could get the products we needed. Isn’t that worth paying a little extra?
Think about all the shops that have disappeared because of Target and Walmart. What if that happens to your local cake supply store?
Your local cake shop is also the main place people learn cake decorating. Yes, you can take Wilton classes at other places, but many people hunger for more after taking those classes. It is the local cake shop that brings in the teachers from out of state. It is the local supply shop that offers holiday themed classes. It is the local supply shop that teaches you how to bake, to decorate, to run a cake business
I was at one shop in another country. It was very small…no larger than a converted garage (which is what it was in) and the owner told me she had over $10,000 in merchandise in there. She had made a huge investment on behalf of her students and local decorators. Now think about the medium size shops and the large shops…how much money do they have tied up in the shop? Can you imagine what their monthly overhead is? They need your patronage.
This is my plea for your local cake shop. The next time you head out for fondant, cake boards and such, I hope you’ll drive past the big box store and give your favorite cake supply store your business instead.