By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
The cupcake trend continues to satisfy Cupid’s sweet tooth. In Bluefield, Va., a mother and daughter team is gearing up for their first Valentine’s Day at Sweet Thangs Sweet Shoppe.
Kristen McVey, 24, and Martha McVey, 56, both of Falls Mills, Va., opened the whimsical bakery in October of 2012. Kristen wanted to open a bakery and turn a hobby into a business. She enlisted her mom for help.
“I have baked all my life,” Martha said. “I am the baker and Kristen is learning.”
Together they have created a cupcake oasis on the corner of Virginia Avenue. The walls are painted bright pink, green and white. Cupcake decor hangs on the walls. The air smells like sugar. The eye settles on a single display case. Inside are rows of big cupcakes, brownie supremes, jumbo chocolate chip cookies, cake balls, pink snowballs and apple baby cakes. Three glass jars are filled with more cake balls, chocolate-covered pretzel rods and jumbo chocolate marshmallows covered in sprinkles.
“The cupcake menu changes everyday,” Martha said. “We have had chocolate peanut butter, German chocolate, vanilla topped with a chocolate-dipped strawberry, key lime and a lemon cupcake with blueberry.”
The shop makes their signature dessert — the brownie supreme — daily. The rich brownie has become a customer favorite. Both Kristen and Martha are fans as well.
The best-selling cupcake is a toss up, Martha said.
“One day, the peanut butter cupcake will sell well. But the next day, it is something different. You just never know. Cake balls always sell really well. It is just a bite and its easy to eat. You are not eating a whole cake. With only one or two bites, you are satisfied,” she said.
All the recipes belong to the family or are spin-offs of ideas found online or in everyday life. The honey bun cupcake — an upscale version of the familiar vending machine snack — is made with yellow butter cake, filled with brown sugar and cinnamon and iced with a confectioner’s glaze.
If those cupcake don’t tempt you, the shop takes special requests. Kristen is already thinking of new combinations such as a pink Moscato cupcake. They aren’t afraid to experiment, even trying out a Jack Daniel’s chocolate ganache icing. She hopes people will notice.
“I want to make a mark,” she said. “I would like us to be a household name in Bluefield.”
Her mom believes the key to success is inside the cupcake.
“You have to have a good, moist cupcake,” Martha said. “It has to be pretty and taste good. The taste is what will bring them back.”
Martha arrives everyday around 6 a.m. A former shop owner in Princeton, she came out of retirement when Kristen started dreaming about a bakery shop a year ago. It took them several months to find a suitable location close to home. In the evenings, Kristen does the book work. She joins her mom in the kitchen about three days a week.
Kristen, who is also the store manager at Ron’s Quick Stop in Falls Mills, said the joint effort works and a bit of patience helps as well.
“Me and my mom are best friends,” she said. “We are so much closer now and spend a lot of time together.”
Business has picked up since October. Sugar, or word of mouth, is spreading through the area, even picking up customers from the local fitness club across the street.
For Valentine’s Day, Sweet Thangs hopes to capitalize on Cupid’s dependency on sweets, especially those decorated in red, white and pink. The bakery can create a sampler’s box for customers looking to surprise a sweetheart. Or simply assist with a cupcake craving. For more information, call 276-322-2034 or visit the bakery at 500 Virginia Avenue.