WESTPORT, Conn. — Westport’s Great Cakes bake shop will sell its last cupcakes and other sweets this Sunday, owner Rick Dickinson said Thursday — exactly one year after the community stepped up and saved the bakery from going out of business.
But this time around, Dickinson said, there’s no bringing the business back.
“It’s definite,” he said. “It’s been a great 25 years, but people are eating less and less sweet goods, and it’s harder to make a living now. It’s time to move on. The business ran its course.”
On the morning of Jan. 30, 2013, news broke that Great Cakes was slated to go out of business the next day. Almost immediately, the community took action. Throughout the day, hundreds of customers visited the bakery to stock up on cupcakes, cookies, breads and of course, cakes.
Others stopped by to drop off donations, and many more showed up and opened prepaid accounts.
“It was unbelievable,” Dickinson said. “It got me over the hump, but the support didn’t continue.”
Business remained strong throughout spring but slowed once summer arrived, as he said it usually does. However, business failed to pick up again in the fall— and the school district’s “cupcake ban” may be partially to blame, he said.
The ban, which went into effect during the 2012-13 school year, prohibits students from bringing cupcakes and other sweet treats for in-school birthday celebrations. Last year, Dickinson told the Daily Voice the cupcake ban resulted in a 15 percent drop in business.
“The cupcake ban hurt me a lot, but it’s not the school board’s job to keep me in business,” he said Thursday.
The decision to close the shop, Dickinson said, wasn’t easy. Over the years, he said he has built close relationships with many loyal customers.
“I have very fond memories of our customers, which is why it’s going to be sad to leave,” he said. “I’ve made many first birthday cakes for kids I’ve also made high school and college cakes for. It makes you feel like you’re part of their family and that they are part of your family, and that’s what I’m going to miss most.”
Dickinson said his assistant, Bonnie, who has worked at the bakery with him for 24 years, is equally heartbroken.
Great Cakes will close at 1 p.m. Sunday. Dickinson asks customers to stop in before then to say goodbye.
“That’s all we want,” he said.