May 23—DICKINSON — With a southern flair for flavor, a Dickinson baker is working on the final touches on display cases and shelving needed to open Sweet Thangs Bakery in early June.
Cassandra Collins said she will open up her storefront on June 4 at 118 Third Ave. W. Sweet Thangs Bakery will offer various sweets, including gourmet cupcakes and cookies, truffles, cheesecake, maple tarts and eclairs, with the exception of doughnuts. Though Dickinson has shops that offer muffins, cookies and doughnuts, Collins said she's more interested in offering a gourmet selection that you wouldn't be able to find at a grocery store.
"It would be the kind of bakery to where if you were walking down a New York street, you would see all of these baked treats in the window," Collins said. "The case will be different almost every day."
Collins will continue her custom cakes, which is about 90% of her customer base from Facebook. The bakery will also feature a daily lunch special. Coming from the South, Collins said that she's all about that "southern soul food." But she also hopes to incorporate local heritage into her bakery such as German kuchen and knoephla.
Last August, Collins drove by the 1906 historic building, spotting the "for rent" sign. At the time, Collins was only doing custom cakes, but knew that she wanted to eventually expand into a business space.
Prior to getting her license from the Southwestern District Health Unit, she worked under the Cottage Food Law for 10 years, which is a system of rules that allows bakers to make and sell goods from their home, with the exception of items that require refrigeration and temperature control and other certain canned foods, among other limitations. From September of 2021 to April, Collins worked on getting the right equipment to meet the protocols necessary to open her business. Collins' bakery will now be able to feature refrigerated items such as cream horns, cream puffs, eclairs, cheesecakes and potentially ice cream cakes.
Collins began her baking career back in Walmart as a cake decorator in 2011, with basic frosting techniques and writing on cakes. By the winter of 2012, she took her expertise and started baking out of her home under the Cottage Law. Born in Dickinson, Collins was living in Alabama before deciding to take her experience back to the Western Edge and open her shop.
As a baker, Collins said she enjoys that no one customer is the same, especially with her custom cakes which range from a quinceañera to a Mickey Mouse cake. She's hoping that the flavors of the treats will amaze people when they stop in.
"What I want is for people to go, 'Oh my gosh, you know that place on Third Avenue — that new bakery that just opened up — they have these maple tarts that are, oh my God,'" Collins said. "... It's easier to share a negative than it is a positive. But I want it to be good enough to where people go, 'Oh my God, you've got to go try this.' That's what I want."
For her early June opening, Collins is currently in the process of installing new linoleum and hooking up the ovens upstairs — which will act as her workspace. She hopes to hire one to two employees once the doors open.
Though she's not licensed for indoor seating, Collins is hoping to expand her store frontage into a cafe where people can sit down and eat. Without even opening yet, Collins admitted that she's outgrown the place and will continue her search over the next year for a place that will allow for cafe seating. By mid-June, the bakery will offer DoorDash.
Along with renovating her storefront and getting her display cases fully stocked for her grand opening, Collins is also taking online courses from the Escoffier Culinary School to become a trained pastry chef.
Located in the heart of the downtown district, Collins said she looks forward to summer nights with First on First concert series as well as other Dickinson events.
Hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit the Sweet Thangs Bakery Facebook page.