How many cupcakes do they expect us to eat?

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.

2 thoughts to “How many cupcakes do they expect us to eat?”

  1. cupcake royal opened in seattle in 2003; they’ve been pretty successful. reinventing mum’s crappy box-mix cupcakes that you wouldn’t want to eat more than every 5-yrs into a gourmet spin on the idea.

    i don’t think this is new – every so often a has-been industry niche gets re-invented with a slightly more modern twist that does well for a while. look at molly moons ice-cream in seattle also – huge lines out the door even on cold days. beetroot and balsamic vinegar ice-cream? baskin and robbin’s didn’t do it.

    pies seem to be the current spin: high5pies, shoofly pie company, ala mode pies etc etc.

    granted, i suspect the cupcake craze is heading close to the krispy creme craze; but that doesn’t mean another niche won’t follow and have lucrative success for many years before exhausting itself.

  2. Yeah I totally get the momentum aspect of this. Cupcakes, now pies, next will be cobbler and bread pudding. There will be constant demand for nice pastries. I’m happy as a consumer that I can buy them. Just not believing that all 3 of these stores will survive, or if even 1 will.

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