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Published October 22, 2010, 12:00 AM

Fargo cupcake shop targets niche market

When it comes to a small-business model with the right combination of solidarity, creativity and cuteness, Fargo’s newest bake shop may just take the cake.

By: Mary Beenken, INFORUM

When it comes to a small-business model with the right combination of solidarity, creativity and cuteness, Fargo’s newest bake shop may just take the cake.

“We make cupcakes,” said Tari Harris, one of three co-owners of Angel Cups, a new shop at 1404 33rd St. S., specializing in cupcakes.

Harris owns and operates Angel Cups with her friends Sera Axtman and Cathy Brown. Open just over a month, the shop boasts 15 varieties of “specialty” cupcakes, which are rotated daily, as well as plain chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, boxed lunches, and arrangements known as “cupcake bouquets.”

While Angel Cups appears to be the only restaurant in Fargo that specializes exclusively in cupcakes, they aren’t alone in the country.

The popularity of cupcakes has skyrocketed lately with the help of the Food Network’s reality show “Cupcake Wars” and the publication of a best-selling book of cupcake recipes by Martha Stewart.

But only recently has the cupcake craze hit Fargo. Axtman said the vision for Fargo’s first cupcake-themed shop came from the so-called cupcakeries opening in cities across the United States.

“A few years ago, I went to New York, and everyone was talking about their cupcake shops,” she said, “so I had to try one, and that idea just stayed with me.”

Axtman, Brown and Harris met at United Blood Services, where they all worked in the donor recruitment department. One day, Axtman shared her idea of opening a cupcakery in Fargo.

“They actually thought it was a good idea,” she said.

None of the women had ever started their own business before, but it didn’t take long for things to fall into place. They quickly found a location and spent weekends cleaning, painting the walls turquoise, and hanging cupcake-patterned curtains.

Still, not everything about starting up a business has been a piece of cake.

While Axtman had been baking for years, the world of cupcakes was new for Brown and Harris. But now that they have been at it for a month, Brown says they’re beginning to get the hang of things.

Already the ladies are thinking of what to try next. Currently they are testing other flavors to expand their variety of specialty cupcakes, and they hope to start making cookies and cupcake arrangements for weddings soon. Just last week they introduced their newest creation, a full-sized cake called the “Big Cupcake.”

“Somebody bought it literally an hour after we made it,” Axtman said.

Harris said that if they continue to be successful, they may consider opening other stores.

“But that would be way in the future,” she said. “For now, we’re just trying to maintain and see where it goes.”

Axtman said she’s optimistic for Angel Cups since it fills a niche in Fargo.

“Other bakeries will make cupcakes, but they’re not from scratch or made with no preservatives,” she said. “So, to me, I guess they don’t really compare.”

Business profile

Angel Cups cupcake shop

  • Location: 1404 33rd St. S., Suite F, Fargo
  • Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Info: www.angelcups.com or (701) 237-0011

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Beenken at (701) 235-7311 or mbeenken@forumcomm.com