Wedding cake bakery gets creative, but projects a slow recovery
published in St. Louis Business Journal
June 25, 2020
Michael Temm never expected to run a wedding cake shop in a world without weddings.
But when Covid-19 hit, that’s exactly what happened.
“It’s a very scary time for the wedding industry,” said Temm, owner of Wedding Wonderland Cakeshop in Florissant. When St. Louis County limited gathering sizes and then issued a stay-at-home order in March, traditional weddings were suddenly out of the question. Wedding Wonderland’s 2,000-square-foot showroom, touted as the largest wedding cake showroom in the Midwest, went dark.
“I do birthdays and all occasions, but weddings are my primary source of income and profit,” Temm said. He estimates 70% of this year’s business has been canceled, downsized or postponed until next year. Temm also had to refund over $10,000 in orders for canceled weddings. Although Wedding Wonderland got a federal Paycheck Protection Loan, that only helped with one month’s rent.
So Temm did what he could. Thanks to strong support for the 34-year-old bakery, he continued filling curbside orders for birthday, graduation and other special occasion cakes. Wedding Wonderland prides itself on its 3D sculpted cakes made with buttercream icing instead of fondant. But in the five or six hours spent making a $200 all-occasion 3D cake, Temm’s bakers could make a $1,000 wedding cake.
“There’s just a lot more profit on a wedding cake,” Temm said.
To make matters worse, it wasn’t just Wedding Wonderland’s profits that shrank — so did its cakes. As drive-by parades supplanted traditional celebrations, people began ordering cupcakes to hand out. Even cakes at in-person parties were smaller due to the county’s gathering size limit. And the few couples that still wanted wedding cakes ordered miniature ones for photo shoots. Temm procured smaller containers, but the high labor costs were hard to swallow.
“There’s still the same amount of labor in that small cake as there is in a large cake,” he said. “So there’s another reason why it’s so scary.”
Wedding Wonderland reopened June 2, but Temm expects the wedding industry to take a year to recover. Instead of moving their weddings to later this year, many couples are skipping 2020 altogether. Temm is planning for a possible year without profits.
“Hopefully we’ll be doing more all-occasion cakes — and honestly, that’ll keep the electric paid, but there won’t be any profit from that,” Temm said.
Nonetheless, Temm believes his shop will pull through. He started baking at age 6 with an Easy-Bake Oven and has been with Wedding Wonderland since it opened in 1986. He’s not about to give up now.
“I’m just doing my best with faith and a quality product,” he said, “and hoping that people rebound with all kinds of cakes.”
Filled Under : News