Who's Candace Nelson? Only the "original" creative mind behind the FIRST cupcakery in the country. And where did she choose to bring her tasty brain-child to life? Beverly Hills..."that's where I want to be...(gimme! gimme!)...living in Beverly Hills...." I finally get Weezer's lyrics! Who wouldn't want to live in Beverly Hills when there's a special bakery just for cupcakes on Little Santa Monica Boulevard??? With 24 flavors at $3.25 a piece (or $36 for a dozen), those cupcakes must be more like pure happiness on a plate! And in these trying economic times, with the jobless rate hovering higher than it's EVER been, how is a place like Sprinkles still growing? With eight current locations and SEVENTEEN other locations opening all around the world, including London and Paris (even Tokyo!), cupcakes aren't just for kids anymore.
Oftentimes, during economic crunches, people will still allow themselves "small splurges" on things that though expensive, are less than $5. So while Startbucks has knocked itself just outside of that "small splurge" zone, cupcakes fit the bill rather nicely! People like Candace Nelson, who started her "original cupcake bakery" in 2004, probably saw the growing niche that, though seemingly simple to fill, has to really "hit" the right tipping point in order to succeed.
Do you know much about Passover? It's a Jewish holiday that lasts eight days and includes a total and complete restriction of anything that uses flour or leavening. Think about it--no pasta, no bread, no...cupcakes. It's a tough week; if you've ever attempted Passover before, you know what I mean. But Candace Nelson, genius that she is, actually developed special Passover cupcakes, made without flour or any leavening whatsoever...and according to Nelson, customers LOVED the cupcakes. There was a line outside of Nelson's Sprinkles door...kind of like the line you see outside of Modern Pastry in Boston's North End on a Friday afternoon. But Modern Pastry sells EVERYTHING! Sprinkles is just cupcakes...divine little mouthfuls of joy, yes, but still...just cupcakes!
Nelson's "tipping point" a la Malcolm Gladwell happened because of things like the advent of her Passover cupcakes (and other special cupcakes like those Nelson created just for your canine best friend!). Nelson had a good product; she marketed it well, and because of her attention to detail, she has a thriving business that only continues to expand--even in this floundering economy. In spring 2010, new Sprinkles locations in Chicago and Houston opened. This summer, DC will see its first Sprinkles. Boston is next, followed by Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver...and the list goes on and on! So even though you may feel like me, "pinched" by the dismal financial outlook, think of cupcakes...and become heartened!
Seriously, Sprinkles Cupcakes isn't just about delivering the oh-so-scrumptious goods, it's about HOPE. Hey, if Candace Nelson can convince the ENTIRE world that cupcakes are worth $3.25 a pop, why can't you get out of your slump? Or solve your financial difficulties? Or get that promotion you've been hoping for? Or if you're a writer, get that $40,000 advance with a big publishing house, contracting for at least three books??? Okay, maybe I took it a little too far there--cupcakes won't solve all of our problems but it is a fascinating example of how, despite the world's financial, social, and political problems, people still want to buy cupcakes. If you can find that sweet thing, that "small splurge" that helps people to forget their troubles, maybe transports them back to their childhood, or happier times, you will be RICH...stinking rich, so rich, Bill Gates will come to you for a loan...that's how RICH you'll be. And that's an extremely hopeful thought.
If you don't happen to live near a major city where a Sprinkles has yet to be sprung, you can order online: http://www.sprinkles.com/order.html OR get a variety of Sprinkles cupcake-mixes at www.Williams-Sonoma.com
Now that's consumer capitalism at its finest...take a bite out of that America! And enjoy every delicious calorie.
Until next time, dear readers...have a WONDERFUL weekend, and be good to your mothers on Sunday!!! Bet she'd LOVE a cupcake.... ;)
PS: For those of you who live in western New York, pop into the Dolce Cupcakery, owned by Kristi Dellaria. Dellaria's cupcakes are $2.25 a piece and are some of the BEST cupcakes I've ever tasted (that's right, I ate more than one...what of it??? You only live once...eat cupcakes!). Check out Dolce Cupcakery online at: www.dolcecupcake.com