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Demand for baked goods increases
Cupcakes, wedding cakes and speciality desserts see resurgence

Karen K. Ho
Northern News Services
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hundreds of cupcakes, elaborate wedding creations and allergy-sensitive offerings are so in demand in Yellowknife right now, small businesses often sell out.

NNSL photo/graphic

Cupcake Lady Meaghan Spence, right, stands at her booth with her stepson Declan Robinson-Spence at the Yellowknife Farmers Market. - Karen K. Ho/NNSL photo

That's the situation for The Cupcake Lady, YK Sweetness and The Three Sisters Bakery, who have all recently seen the popularity of their wares go up.

"Demand increases every year," The Cupcake Lady's Meaghan Spence told Yellowknifer while standing at her usual Yellowknife Farmers Market booth with her three other family members. "I don't do any advertising besides my Facebook page, so it's that or word of mouth." Every week, Spence estimated she sells 48 dozen cinnamon and cheese buns, as well as 30 to 35 dozen cupcakes in flavours such as gluten and dairy-free strawberry, vegan chocolate, orange cream pop and blackberry vanilla. All that baking uses up about 30 kilograms of all-purpose and multigrain flour, or three full bags' worth.

On Tuesday afternoons, customers like Rosemary Jackson have to race to her booth before everything is sold out.

"I am desperately seeking a good quality bakery," she said after buying three cupcakes for $2.50 each during her first visit.

New vendor Three Sisters Bakery, which specializes in a variety of allergy-free treats and debuted at the farmers market this year, recently saw demand grow so quickly the trio expanded into savoury items and catering for larger private functions, such as an engagement party for 30 people.

Even private wedding cake vendors, such as Picture This Productions, have had to declare their summer schedules full and turn down any potential new orders.

Still, even after starting seven or eight years ago with craft sales and five extra private orders per week, Spence said her primary job is still running a home-based daycare.

But she admitted the amount of time she spends on The Cupcake Lady isn't insignificant.

"It's almost like another full-time job," she said.

For customers wondering about why they can't easily pick up desserts or breads at an independent bakery, chef Pierre LePage said the economics simply don't work.

"I could only afford it because I had several other businesses that supported it," he said. "I don't think a bakery could survive in small town like this ... unless you have a busy, busy storefront attached to something else."

LePage is the former owner of deli and bakery Le Stock Pot, which closed in April 2013.

He cited the extra-high costs of basic supplies such as flour, as well as water, and labour as additional challenges and deterrents to potential bakery owners.

"To do business here, you have to be a magician," he said. "People expect small prices and the problem is with bread, you have to produce so much to make money."

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