Editor’s note: This is one story in a series about local businesses in the City of Fairborn. This feature puts a face to the names of those that have been part of the community for many years – some of those best-kept secrets.
Cakes for All Occasions is not a corporation. Instead, it is a family with a desire to make people’s dream desserts. The owners, Thomas and Joanne Little, are Fairborn residents, and Joanne has lived in this city her whole life. They feel that you are never too old to start your dream job.
She started making cakes for her friends and family when she was younger. She got her first job at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Commissary, where she worked for eight years and learned the skills of baking and decorating while she did so. One day one of the decorators told her that they should go open a business of their own, and they looked at the store in Fairborn. They liked it so much that they went back to the commissary and quit their jobs the very same day.
They successfully ran the business at that location for 10 years. However, they desired an expansion of their business, which required more space. Four years ago they moved across the street, where they currently stand.
Thomas worked in the past as a head cook at a 500-room guest ranch, but eventually got away from cooking and worked other jobs. He retired about three years ago, and was looking for something to do, and Joanne decided to put him to good use by having him help her with the bakery shop.
The bakery’s is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. That leaves the bakery owners with Sunday and Monday to serve as their weekend, and an opportunity to get ready for the work week ahead. Saturdays are normally spent delivering baked goods to weddings and other events. They used to supply bake goods for the coffee shop when it was in town, and are open to supplying to other businesses should they need bakery services.
They have supplied goods to military functions, showers, weddings and retirement events, which are not limited to the Fairborn city limits. They have been sent to Wisconsin and Florida to supply wedding cakes. The delivery fee varies according to the area and what is involved, but the owners said, “if you want it we will fulfill it.”
In an effort to keep their prices low, the bakery owners have not left much room for advertising in their budget. Therefore, most of their business comes through word of mouth. Joanne still remembers how tough it can be for people to buy cakes for their family, and she wants everyone to be able to afford a bakery cake.
Besides cakes, Cakes for All Occasions offers cupcakes, cookies and pies, among other pastries, and they recently started making cinnamon rolls. They also serve ice cream between April and October.
They are open to making a customer’s favorite cake recipe, as well; customers can bring in their own recipes, and the bakery will make them accordingly. The owners said if the recipe is really good, it has the possibility of finding a home on the menu. They get many short notices, as the big bakeries need planning and time; some big bakeries won’t bother with a small order like Cakes for All Occasions do, according to its owners.
The owners said their budget is currently tight, but they hope to expand in the future to give others the chance to learn the trade.
The Littles said they supports many community events and love their business being a part of Fairborn. They feel that businesses would do well to learn from this.
“They have to be involved and be a part of their community in order to grow,” the Little’s said. “One can’t live miles away and know what their town wants.”
Joanne said she chose Fairborn because she grew up here and she “wanted to give back and do something to benefit my community and town.”
The Littles feel that in order for Fairborn to grow, it needs to help and encourage businesses, such as providing incentives to make others want to live and work here.
“Opening a business is hard,” the Little’s said. “The businesses know what they need to grow, and the city needs to support them if it wants to expand … your chances of success in your hometown are better than somewhere else.”