We now have 3 cupcake stores in downtown Bellevue — stores that feature cupcake in their name, and sell primarily cupcakes. In addition to all the bakeries and other establishments that offer cupcakes, and the giant cupcake display counter now at QFC.
I like baked goods as well as anyone, and I estimate that, prior to the flood of cupcake stores, I ate cupcakes about once every 5 years. This does not bode well for the cupcake retailers. I feel badly for the store owners who have sunk a lot of money into their efforts, but my gosh, with a little forethought you might have anticipated that a cupcake store was not a great idea. When I walk thru the grocery store, before the current cupcake craze, I saw darn little in the way of cupcakes, which is a hint that people just don’t eat that many cupcakes. Contrast with the amount of space in the grocery dedicated to ice cream or to sandwich makings, and you can see why sandwich shops and ice cream shops might endure (though we are awash in frozen yogurt places at the moment as well).
Maybe the theory was that the cupcake’s time had arrived, that we were going to see a massive increase in the consumption rate of cupcakes. You would have to assume that something fundamental had changed about cupcakes or about human nature to believe this. As near as I can tell there has been no breakthrough in cupcake science or cupcake production costs.
I will try to do my part, I might even double my cupcake consumption rate and buy one every couple of years. But the first rule for a business should be — try to target a frequent and durable need of your customers.