Cupcake craze hits Whitehorse

There's a new sweet store in town. The Urban Cake Shop opened Tuesday, hoping to cash in on sweet-toothed clients' cravings for a cupcake and a generous dollop of icing. It's just the latest urban trend to hit Whitehorse.

There’s a new sweet store in town.

The Urban Cake Shop opened Tuesday, hoping to cash in on sweet-toothed clients’ cravings for a cupcake and a generous dollop of icing.

It’s just the latest urban trend to hit Whitehorse. Similar stores have sprung up in big cities such as New York, Toronto and Vancouver over the past four years.

The store is found at 2110 Second Avenue, in the former location of Thredz Custom Printed Clothes. Inside, shoppers are greeted by a considerable variety of cupcakes on offer: chocolate mint, chocolate raspberry, lemon drop, pineapple coconut, pink polka dot and carrot pineapple. Brownies and molasses caramel towers are also on display.

Cupcakes cost $3 each, $15 for a half-dozen or $30 for a dozen. Mini-cupcakes go for $7.50 per half-dozen or $15 per dozen.

Marya Morningstar, 32, is the store’s owner, and for now, sole employee.

Her day starts early, at 4:30 a.m. But, after spending 11 years working in kitchens, she’s used to rising before the birds.

The Nova Scotia native felt the entrepreneurial drive early in life. In high school, she sewed two-panelled hacky sacks from fabric, stuffed them with rice and sold them for $2.

Morningstar became a fixture at the Spruce Bog sales shortly after moving to Whitehorse about five years ago, billing herself as an “artist at random” who sold purses, chunky necklaces and other “kitschy stuff.”

Three years ago, after the birth of Morningstar’s son, she devised her Funky Baby line of apparel. Her store features a rack of the brightly-coloured shirts, pants and reversal dresses, which are designed for children between four months and four years of age.

Also on offer are art cards, felted mitts and hats, and other crafts, all made by Whitehorse artists.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own business,” said Morningstar. And, she adds, “There’s no cake shop in town.”

She touts the benefits of fresh baking – none of her goods are frozen. This is exceptional when it comes to baked treats in Whitehorse, she said. “Everyone” freezes them, she said. “I’ve worked everywhere.”

Morningstar spent years perfecting her recipe. And once the business is off the ground, she hopes to release a cookbook.

For Whitehorse residents with dietary restrictions, vegan and gluten-free options are available.

She’s also taking orders for multi-layer cakes, but you may have to wait in line. She’s only taking two orders a day for now, and she’s already backed up several weekends. A six-inch cake costs $30, a nine-inch cake is $60 and a 12-inch cake is $80.

Each cake is built to spec from the shop’s range of cake and icing varieties, but “it doesn’t mean I’m going to make a cake that looks like Dora or the Eiffel Tower,” said Morningstar.

She hopes to lure tourists into the store during the summer with iced tea and popsicles, and plans to have hired two part-time employees by then.

It’s still in the early days, but the store has so far had an enthusiastic reception. Morningstar gave away about 300 cupcakes on the store’s opening day.

During a half-hour on Wednesday afternoon, the clients that drifted in and out of the store were exclusively women. But several men have stopped at the store to say they’re thrilled to find a counterpart to the high-end shops they once frequented in Vancouver or Toronto, said Morningstar.

One woman who walked down the sidewalk clutching a tray of a dozen cupcakes, bore the smile of the cat that ate the canary.

Maybe make that cupcake.

Store hours are between noon and 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Goods are half-price on Saturdays after 3 p.m.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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