Small Dallas Cupcake Business Downsizes to Survive COVID-19 Pandemic

It's a business model many small businesses have adapted: getting smaller to cut costs and keep employees

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As small businesses work to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, some stores have stayed afloat by getting even smaller. 

The owner of a Dallas cupcake shop came up with a strategy to survive by downsizing the number of his stores.

It’s been a bumpy year for Keith Fluellen, the owner of Fluellen Cupcakes. 

“I am the baker right now, but as a business owner, you have to be able to do everything,” Fluellen said.

COVID-19 forced him to close two other stores -- in Dallas and Frisco. 

He came up with the idea to keep his Downtown Dallas location open and move employees there.  

“It’s caused you to look at your business model and make sure you’re doing everything efficiently,” Fluellen said.

He said business has rebounded to 70% -- enough to bump up pay to up to $15 an hour to help employees and their families.

“What I found out was, this is their only household income, because their parents and other people in the household, their jobs were terminated because of the pandemic,” Fluellen said.

A University of Texas at Dallas business expert said things like consumer spending and government relief will help the economy creep back to pre-pandemic levels.

“All the indications are that this is going to be a good, long-term trend," said Paul Nichols, the executive director of the UTD Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. "There’s still going to be some trouble as we navigate through this new forest, but everything is moving in the right direction. It’s just going to take some time."

It’s a direction Fluellen said he hopes leads to more spending at small businesses like his.

“Small businesses do have a big impact on the economy,” Fluellen said.

He said he was looking to hire more employees, including a full-time baker, and considering expanding to more stores when the time is right. 

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