Crumby Business Model

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The nice thing about hating fads is that you know, if you wait long enough, your moment of schadenfreude will come. Such is now the case as overextended cupcake chain Crumbs Bake Shop implodes, leaving a sticky mess of carb-loaded debris all over its delisted NASDAQ stock.

I’ll admit: I enjoyed this one.

I never understood how zeroing in on a single product, like cupcakes, could make for a viable market.

Now, I get how delicious dessert can be, but I never understood how zeroing in on a single product, like cupcakes, could make for a viable market. It’d be a bit like opening a pizza joint that only sold pizza by the slice. And only if you wanted that slice with pepperoni on it.

crumbs-exteriorOK, maybe that’s not fair. After all, it wasn’t like they didn’t sell different flavors of cupcakes. Lemme try again.

It’d be a bit like opening a chain of dealerships that only sold one model car, in one make. Different colors, sure. Even different options as far as which stereo you put in it, or whether you wanted fog lights or not.

This seems apt – as that’s the kind of crap you could expect a luxury car brand to try to pull. … Problem is, while you might be able to pull off that kind of specialization with cars, provided they were badass enough and you charged a million bucks a pop – Koenigsegg, I’m looking at you – you’re not going to get away with it when selling baked goods.

crumbs_closed-signBut wait, you say – what about doughnuts? Aren’t those a specialized, niche dessert good just like cupcakes?

Maybe. But they’re fried. And specialized. To do them right requires a particular dedication to a particular craft. I argue that cupcakes, on the other hand, are simply an offshoot of things bakeries do just fine. In other words, if you need top-notch cupcakes, you can head to a baker. Same isn’t necessarily true for doughnuts. Ergo, doughnuts deserve their niche status.

Paying five bucks for cupcakes is fine – provided there’s an S. Once you’re paying five bucks for A cupcake, singular … Well, that’s a different matter altogether.

Then there’s the price. The cupcake craze didn’t merely involve going hog wild for cupcakes – it also involved driving the prices on those cupcakes through the roof. Paying five bucks for cupcakes is fine – provided there’s an S. Once you’re paying five bucks for A cupcake, singular … Well, that’s a different matter altogether. Frankly, if it’s gonna be worth the price, it’s gotta be so big and over the top that it wouldn’t qualify as a cupcake any more. It’d be a straight-up cake. Albeit oddly shaped, perhaps.

So, goodbye, Crumbs. I never understood you. As with all things we cannot understand, I’m relieved to see you go.

Now, if the alpaca pyramid scheme could just follow suit. …RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Jared Kendall

Jared Kendall
A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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