WESTPORT, Conn. – Thanks to the hundreds of Westport residents who bought cupcakes, cakes, cookies, breads and other treats Wednesday, Great Cakes bake shop — a Westport institution for 30 years — won’t be closing its doors Thursday, as owner Rick Dickinson thought it might.
“We had a phenomenal turnout today,” Dickinson said after the shop closed for the night, nearly 40 minutes later than normal due to the steady flow of customers. “I didn’t expect it. I almost broke down [crying] several times today because I couldn’t believe it.”
Like many businesses, Dickinson said the shop has been affected by the down economy. However, he said the shop took a big hit after a ban on cupcakes and other sweets for in-school birthday celebrations went into effect this school year.
Before the ban, Dickinson said parents bought cupcakes for their children to take to school for their birthdays. Now, in-school birthday celebrations must be food-free, he said.
“It’s wiped out about 15 percent of my business,” Dickinson said.
Word that the bakery might close spread like wildfire after Dan Woog, a longtime customer and friend of Dickinson, mentioned it on his blog Wednesday morning.
The news prompted residents Sarah Green, Lynne Goldstein and Cindy Eigen — some of the co-founders of Kool to be Kind — to send emails to friends, asking them to come out and support the shop. They also sent the email to Woog, who posted it on his blog. And the community responded.
“After we found out, we knew we had to do something,” Green said. “We sent out emails to everyone we knew and then they sent out emails to their friends and so on. What a great example of ‘It takes a village.’ It makes me proud to live here.”
In the email, the group encouraged people to open prepaid accounts at the bakery, giving them store credit to cash in whenever they want. As such, many customers stopped by to hand Dickinson a check and wish him luck.
Others came by to answer the phones or help Dickinson and his staff during the rush. At one point, a young girl came by to give him her piggy bank.
“It was beyond belief,” he said with a smile. “I’ve always tried to support the community in any way I could and I guess it’s coming back to me.”
Dickinson said he is not sure how long Wednesday’s business boom will tide him over — he won’t know until he tallies up the profits. But he said he’s confident it was enough to keep the business going for the next few weeks at least.
“Just in credit cards alone, we did better than we did on Christmas,” Dickinson said. “We will definitely be here tomorrow.”
Great Cakes is located at 772 Post Road E.