Easter business has been up for Perreca’s Bakery on North Jay Street in Schenectady, but manager Maria Perreca Papa attributes the sales more to cupcakes and Facebook than holiday tradition.
Papa said Perreca’s new cupcakes have outsold other Easter favorites like Easter bread, a frosted sweet bread also called panettone, containing raisins and dates, and Easter pies, which contain ham, ricotta or rice. She said the down economy has caused her business to innovate with a new product, cupcakes, and a new marketing strategy, Facebook.
Perreca’s established a Facebook page and had about 1,500 fans of the bakery within a week. The online cupcake chatter has translated into sales.
“People say, ‘Oh, I was on Facebook and I heard about these cupcakes.’ So, we are innovating. We’re an old business, but we have to innovate,” Papa said. “We had an Easter to match Christmas, which is unheard of for us.”
Other traditional Easter goods have been affected in different ways by the economy and the changing times.
Jim Meyer, the manager of Pedrick’s Florist & Greenhouse on Route 50 in Glenville, said Easter has become less important to the flower business in recent years because of changing social trends. He said in the past families would dress up to attend church services and come in to purchase corsages, but that happens less now.
He said more families go to Easter dinner at restaurants, which cuts demand for floral centerpieces. Flower sales are flat from last year for lilies, mums and daisies.
The true make-or-break holidays for the flower industry are Mother’s Day and then Valentine’s Day, he said.
“Everybody has a mom; not everybody has a valentine,” Meyer said.
Mike Martoccio, a 10-year veteran manager of Krause’s Homemade Candy on Central Avenue in Albany, said his store expected sales to be down from last year but a trick of the calender has helped save the Easter candy season for the business.
He said sales of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and other Easter basket items are up from last year despite the recession.
“Business has been outstanding compared to last year. Last year Easter was March 23, so we’ve had an extra three weeks this year. What happened last year is people didn’t expect Easter to be before the end of March,” Martoccio said. “We’re pretty much selling out of everything we put out there, and people want to buy it all. We had certain numbers we wanted to hit, and we’ve had to make more of all of it this last week.”
Listening to customers can be crucial during a down economy, said Lorraine Diamond, manager of the White Holland House on Route 29 in Fulton County.
She said her restaurant anticipated that reservations for Easter dinner would drop from last year and scaled back to approximately 400 reservations, down from 548 last year.
She said White Holland House surveyed the first 20 reservations to see if they would prefer the restaurant keep the price of the all-you-can-eat meal the same as last year with only two meat options or would they prefer that it go up with the traditional choice of three meats and/or a fish.
Diamond said the customers picked keeping the price flat with two meats. Since then, the restaurant has filled up its 400 reservations.
“Now we’re turning people away. We went into it thinking it would be smaller, and now the phones are ringing off the hook.”