Exactly one year ago today, I posted a story about Great Cakes. The popular bakery was in danger of closing the next day — January 31, 2013 — done in by a combination of the economy, the slow winter season, changing tastes and a school district-wide ban on cupcakes for classroom parties.
Within hours, a different story was told. Dozens of customers — loyal to owner Rick Dickinson, his assistant Bonnie, and grateful for their constant donations of pies, cookies and, yes, cupcakes to any organization that asked — rushed to the small Post Road store to help.
They handed over cash and checks. They opened “pre-paid accounts.” They offered to devise a business plan.
Great Cakes was saved.
Winter and spring were, well, great. But business tailed off in summer and fall, and never came back.
Now, Rick says, Sunday will be his last day. The decision is final — and “inevitable.”
“For the last 6 years, all I’ve done is worry about payroll,” Rick says.
He lives in New Milford. The drive to work takes an hour — and he arrives at 4 a.m. every day to get ready.
“I’m 54 years old,” he notes. “I work 103 hours a week. The business just isn’t here anymore to justify this.
“People are moving away from baked goods. It would cost $50,000 to renovate the kitchen into a deli-bakery. I just think I have to close now.”
He is using this week to pay Bonnie, and his purveyors.
Rick — who took over as owner in 1994 from Max Goree, who started the place in 1982 — loves the town, and has contributed greatly to it. Rick has developed deep, strong relationships with countless customers. They’ve been very good to him, he says.
So has his landlord, who reduced the rent as much as possible. “They know what it’s like — they owned a bakery themselves,” he says.
But on Sunday, the last cupcake will be baked. The last challah will be handed over.
And the last great cake will be sold.