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“It was greatly appreciated”: Customers clear out construction zone bakery

Construction is taking place in front of The Little House of Cupcakes and More on Talbot Street, as seen on June 2, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor) Construction is taking place in front of The Little House of Cupcakes and More on Talbot Street, as seen on June 2, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

Shoppers with a sweet tooth completely sold out a small town bakery in the Town of Essex recently, while streetscape construction continues in front of the Essex Centre store.

Staff at The Little House of Cupcakes and More on Talbot Street said there was no sugar-coating concern when making a Facebook post last week reminding customers they were still open, less than one month after roadwork began.

“It’s hard with the roads being torn up and the sidewalks are next,” said owner Heather Richardson. “We don’t see a lot of foot traffic like we normally do.”

Richardson wrote in the post that every little thing helps, saying if they can’t get customers inside, the bakery wouldn’t make it after 8 years of business.

“Telling people if they can’t come in, I can’t pay the bills and I can’t pay the staff,” Richardson said. “It kind of went viral on us and they cleared us out.”

Richardson said by the next day, the post was shared about a thousand times and that countless customers purchased everything in stock within two days.

“I can’t believe the amount of people that came in, waited in line just to pick up any little treat they could and it was greatly appreciated,” she added.

She explained, “This last month has been real hard. We depend on our walk-ins and when nobody was coming in, I didn’t know what to do.”

Richardson added, “We try to do a lot of things for other people, fundraising and donations and when I needed the help, everybody stepped up and came in and I appreciate every one of them.”

Meantime, The Essex Centre Streetscape and Victoria Avenue project is estimated to continue throughout the summer into the fall and be complete in December 2023.

“There's a lot more to come, unfortunately,” said Mayor Sherry Bondy. “But fortunately because it'll be beautiful when it's all said and done.”

According to Bondy, underground work is coming soon, with focus shifting to big item things like curbs, roads, and sidewalks.

Bondy said she put forward a Notice of Motion for this Monday’s council asking how the town can better support businesses and bring shoppers to the core while construction continues.

“We know that they had a couple of years of lock downs and this is also a challenge,” Bondy told CTV News. “So we're asking people again to shop local and see if there's anything else we can do. For example, can we hire more social media influencers? Can we look at newspaper, radio, TV ads? What else matters for the businesses?”

Bondy continued, “Maybe we bring back a mini facade grant where businesses have access to grant monies again and just really looking for a brainstorming session with council to see what do we do next and how do we further help them.”

“We want our businesses to be successful. There is ample parking. If you go to Essex streetscape on our website, you will see all the free municipal parking lots that are just a block away,” said Bondy. “Ken Knapp Ford has a free shuttle service that they're doing. You can park at Ken Knapp Ford in beautiful downtown Essex and they'll drive you to our businesses. So we really are trying to make sure our businesses do really well now.”

Bondy suggested recent summer like weather had been a boon to progress for construction, but stopped short of saying the project could be completed sooner than expected.

“We never want to jinx ourselves but I think we have a great contractor here in the area,” Bondy said. “They’re staying on schedule, the weather has been cooperative, so there’s so many variables up in the air. You never know what you’re going to find with construction. So that’s why we just want to make sure that we’re supporting local during the construction.”

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