IT’S ALL A MATTER OF TASTE IN CUPCAKE CITY

Photos by Stacie Fanelli. To enlarge the slideshow, click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Late in 2009 and into 2010, a sign in a window on West Front Street indicated a new specialty shop, Cake Red Bank, would be moving in soon, teasing the palates of passersby.

It never came.

But then, amid a series of pounding snowstorms that buried the area, a couple from Manhattan brought baked batter to the table in a nook on East Front called Sugarush, offering an array of cupcakes and confectionaries. It appeared  that Chris Paseka and Jesse Bello-Paseka had firmly staked their frosting knives in the ground.

Little did they know that two prospective cupcake merchants were greasing mini foils in preparation for their own cupcake outlets within blocks of Sugarush. Within a matter months, Red Bank, a town of 1.7 square miles, has become home to three cupcake shops — the Pasekas’ Sugarush, Cupcake Magician and Mr. Cupcakes — setting the stage for a turf war.

But several months in, the rivalry has shaped up as plain vanilla, with owners playing nice and customers, apparently welcome to options, having largely formed their own opinions and allegiances, showing that even in a small market, it’s possible to find a niche within a niche.

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CURB ALERT: HOT DEALS IN RED BANK

rb-sidewalk-sale-2008-1On the lookout for bargains at Mustillo’s in 2008. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that Red Bank’s Sidewalk Sale is more about rummage-type deals and unexpected finds on a folding table.

The annual tradition, now in its 57th year, has other certainties.

“It’s brutally hot every year and it always rains one day,” said Jayme Seldin, owner of Seldin’s Trinkets, on West Front Street.

But for retailers, there’s an upside for enduring the mid-summer’s stifle: increased exposure to customers. And the customers, Seldin said, are plenty.

“It does bring people into town. That’s a great thing in the summer,” Seldin said.

Beginning Friday and running through the weekend, the borough’s Baby Boomer of a tradition takes its place on clothes racks, in shoe boxes and just about every inch of sidewalk available, rain or shine, hot or hotter.

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