Across the mall, Arleen Scavone, two-time winner of "Cupcake Wars" on the Food Network, is setting up a cart for Sweet Arleen's, selling dessert treats — the Red Velvet cupcake is the best seller. Scavone has a store about 15 miles away, in Westlake Village, and she also has a mobile food truck, but, "this is our first mall experience."
Scavone opened her cart on Black Fridayand says business was strong. However, in the days that followed, "We were disappointed in our sales." So she moved the cart to a new location, near a GapKids, and sales improved.
Scavone says she's not investing in a cart just to sell cupcakes, but rather to extend brand awareness in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. The start up costs were less than $10,000, a risk that may already be paying off. "We do have some people who've come into the store after seeing the cart." Her biggest challenge: staffing. Even in this economy, she says it's hard finding young adults she can train who are available to work the long hours at the mall. She says she prefers hiring college students and has to work around the hours that her employees are in class.
Back at "All About Me," Sam Brogden is pretty much running the show herself. What has she learned? "I should have asked for help...about everything." Brogden says she's seeing a lot of foot traffic, but after working 11 hours a day, seven days a week, she won't do this again. "Too much work."
Yet Arleen Scavone hopes "Sweet Arleen's" is successful enough that she stays in the mall, and maybe even expands her presence there. "Ask me in two weeks and I'll have a better idea. It's a tough go when you're starting up."