Georgetown Cupcake sees rise in holiday shipping

December 25, 2011

Amazon.com is not the only one pulling 24-hour shifts to fill holiday orders.

Homegrown bakery Georgetown Cupcakes has been working around the clock this month to bake, frost, package and ship some 20,000 orders around the country. That’s triple the orders — one of which equals a dozen cupcakes —the company received last season.

“We’ve done corporate orders as high as 1,000 boxes,” said Stephen LaMontagne, chief executive of Georgetown Cupcakes. “People are finding out about us, and there has been a gradual build up of buzz around sending cupcakes as gifts.”

It also doesn’t hurt that the bakery is featured every week on TLC’s cable television show “D.C. Cupcakes” — chronicling the antics of sisters and co-owners Sophie LaMontagne (Stephen’s wife) and Katherine Kallinis.

Stephen LaMontagne estimates the company is pumping out 1,000 orders a day, with a staff of 25, at its plant in Sterling. Georgetown Cupcakes opened the 5,000 square foot facility last December as it could no longer handle the volume of orders at the flagship store at 3301 M St. NW.

The company selected the site because it was within minutes from FedEx’s cargo hub in Dulles.

“We have FedEx trucks swinging through three or four times a day, and we’re their last pick up before they head to the airport,” he said. “So, it’s working out really well.”

Okay, but can they ensure a batch of cupcakes delivered to Seattle will be as fresh as a box picked up in Bethesda?

“Sure,” LaMontagne said, “we’ve got this down to a science.”

Once the order of cupcakes are frosted, they are placed in plastic clamshell containers to keep them from jostling around. The containers are then slipped into an insulated mylar bag for longer shelf life and packaged in the company’s signature pink box. Then it’s off to the cooler, where the desserts are frozen until FedEx is ready for pick up. All orders are shipped overnight.

The chief executive guarantees the cupcakes will stay fresh for two weeks if kept frozen upon delivery. The palm-sized desserts take about two to three hours to thaw.

Local FedEx station manager Paul Meilinger said he’s seeing a lot of food packages this holiday season. Shipping activity this season for all sorts of packages is up 12 percent over the prior year thanks to Internet sales, he said.

According to the Reston-based online research firm ComScore, shoppers spent $30.9 billion online from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16, 15 percent more than last year.

Georgetown Cupcakes takes a majority of its shipping orders online and requires a minimum order of one dozen cupcakes. The first dozen costs $26, while each additional dozen shipped to the same address rings in at $15.

At those prices and the volume LaMontagne quoted, the bakery could be taking in around half a million dollars for the season. LaMontagne was mum on revenue, except to say “business continues to grow every year.”

Year-round demand seems to be good enough to warrant expansion. Georgetown Cupcakes is weeks away from opening its first location outside of the Washington area, with a store in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. That location will be followed up in the spring with a store on Newbury Street in Boston.

Danielle Douglas covers the banking industry for The Washington Post.
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