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It started with a wedding cake

June 29, 2013

At her bakery, Marcia Crandall sells all kinds of cakes.

By Annette Birch

The article is published at The Capital Post,

When Marcia Crandall agreed to bake a wedding cake for a friend around nine years ago, she didn’t imagine it would lead to her quitting her day job as a payroll clerk and opening an Alexandria bakery that now has two locations. Today, Occasionally Cake sells cupcakes and all kinds of cakes, offering 170 flavor combinations, but during the wedding season from May to August the focus is on wedding cakes.

“We really get to know our couples well and what they are looking for in a cake and I can do most anything that a couple throws at me,” said Crandall who upon request also do wedding packages with a wedding photographer.

When her friend asked her to make her a wedding cake, Crandall had only made a couple of cakes before, but no major ones.

“I spent a lot of time on the internet learning how to do it. Once the wedding happened and went forward I thought I have to learn how to make cakes and how to do this,” Crandall said.

Crandall began taking classes where she ran into Sabrina Campbell, a friend she knew from church. The two started baking cakes for friends and she tells that “it started to take up so much of our time that we were like we either need to do something about it or just do one cake a month or back it off.”

At last, they got so many orders that they decided to start their own shop in Alexandria near Route One on the way to Mount Vernon. “When we found this place it was four walls and a ceiling and nothing in here,” Crandall said.

The shop opened in 2009, but in the beginning business was slow. “When we opened up the doors, they were all Sabrina’s friends. People we knew from church and things like that.” But soon more business was coming. “We are on Google search, so people will call us and say I drive Route One every day, where are you?”

Today, cupcakes in different colors occupy the counter next to a little table and chairs, while Crandall and two colleagues are busy making and decorating cakes. A wedding cake with 60 servings starts at 400 dollars and can go up after the detail and decoration of the design, while a little wedding cake with cupcakes is 70 dollars for the wedding cake and three dollars per piece for the cupcakes. Crandall had people come into the shop, saying “Oh gosh, I could get a cake at Walmart for 20 dollars.” She does not want to compete with that.

“All of our stuff is custom done, everything is done by order. If you are going to compare me other ways with them, taste, beauty, all of that kind of stuff, I am going to blow them out of the water every time. But if you are only going by cost, I cannot compete there and I am not going to try,” Crandall said.

Last year the shop opened another shop in Old Town Alexandria. Crandall is confident that people will continue to eat her cakes. “One of the things we say a lot is that anybody can make a good-looking cake but to actually open up and eat it and have it be good still is something special. We got an email yesterday (from the bride) that said ‘Just wanted to thank you for making such a beautiful and delicious cake. It looked amazing and everyone kept commenting on how delicious it was.’”

The photo is used with permission from Marcia Crandall,

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