Small in size, big on flavor
It seems like a product fitting in naturally with the Delaware Economic Development Office’s Project Pop Up – cake pops.
Albert Sierra and Keila Montalvo, owners of Petite Sweets at 22 South Walnut Street in Milford, believe they have found the perfect home for their treats.
“To me, this is kind of the next big idea,” Sierra said, of cake pops. “Cupcakes have been here a while. But there was one time when cupcake bakeries were opening up all over the place … the same thing with frozen yogurts.
“For me, this is like the next idea – something simple, something unique and something different.”
Cake pops are like mini-cupcakes shaped in the form of lollipops. Petite Sweets offers 10 regular flavors, such as red velvet, cookies and cream and run cake, along with special holiday seasonal tastes.
Four other Milford businesses have participated in Project Pop Up.
Petite Sweets is hoping to follow in the path of three that are continuing to grow -Delaware Branding Company, Milford Massage, Wellness & Yoga and Little Posies Photography.
Sierra, a New Jersey transplant, said he had been looking at renting out his current 1,500-square front storefront location just before he found out about Project Pop Up. He quickly applied and was accepted.
“[Project Pop Up] helped us understand Delaware a little bit better because Delaware and New Jersey are not the same, they’re very different with the people and the market,” he said. “So they kind of gave us a better understanding of what we were getting into.”
The program also gave Petite Sweets three months of free rent and advice from experts in developing a complete business plan.
In four years Project Pop Up has helped open 18 businesses in select downtown areas – 17 of which have gone on to sign long-term leases.
Diane Laird, state coordinator for DEDO Downtown Delaware, said the program has obviously been a boon for small businesses.
“We’re very excited to celebrate the success of our new Project Pop Up businesses,” Laird said. “Each brings valuable goods or services to the community in which they’ve chosen to locate and the rent-free incentive offered by the property owners gives these small business owners a running start to successful long-term leases.”
Petite Sweets joins Artsy Fartsy, an art studio in Dover; Lakeside Physical Therapy in Laurel and Pea Patch Studio, which is a micro fitness, yoga and wellness center in Delaware City, as this year’s Project Pop Up businesses.
And while Sierra said he enjoys meeting people and selling his cake pops downtown, there is more to his business than meets the eye.
“We initially started in doing [cake pops] wholesale, so that’s the bulk of our business, supplying restaurants and food establishments,” said Sierra. “So when we opened the store here, whether we sold one or 100 cake pops, that was not necessarily the goal. But we’ve been pretty busy and that’s always nice to see.”
Sierra said that on average Petite Sweets makes and sells around 400 cake pops per day.
He said the company tries to stay active on social media, is in tune with Milford events such as Small Business Saturday and the Holiday Stroll, and hosts special events of its own such as birthday parties and paint nights.
Sierra and Montalvo got off to a running start before their grand opening. They sold their products on Saturdays at the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market about a month and a half before opening their shop.
That, Sierra said, helped take some of the pressure off of their Dec. 9 grand opening. People knew what the store had to offer.
Sierra said he really enjoys watching customers try his cake pops for the very first time.
“We want to make flavors that are authentic and genuine. We actually do it all in-house,” he said. “We don’t find any shortcuts, we go all out to make sure the actual product has the best flavors and the best ingredients.
“You can see in the customer’s face that they really do get it the moment they bite into it.”
And that’s all that Sierra and Montalvo are hoping for.