The Lebanon Farmers Market community of vendors has grown once again.
Red’s Cupcakery opened July 15. The stand sells a variety of baked goods, including brownies, cakes, and cupcakes.
“I was a little nervous to see how people would receive me, but it’s been great,” said Lori Dollinger, who owns Red’s Cupcakery. “Everybody’s been nice and welcoming and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
The flavors available at the stand change every week. There are over 30 different flavors to choose from for custom orders but there are typically between 12 and 15 for sale at the stand on any given week. Each flavor has a gluten-free version as well.
“I try to switch it up so that each week when people come, they find something different,” said Dollinger.
Dollinger makes everything from scratch and invents all of the recipes herself. She is constantly trying out new recipes and, even with classic treats, she tries to present them in a different way to set herself apart.
“I just try to be original,” she said. “There are a lot of really great bakers, so with my cupcakes and stuff, I try to make them different and eye-catching in ways that don’t look like everybody else’s.”
Dollinger was a paralegal for 20 years before being offered a position as a baking manager four years ago at The Works in Wyomissing. It helped her fully realize her passion for baking.
“I remember going home that [first] night and telling my husband, ‘I just got paid to make brownies and cakes all day, this is the best thing ever,’” she said. “I’ve never looked back.”
She started out in the Leesport Farmers Market but decided to move to the Lebanon Farmers Market, at 35 S. 8th St., so she could have a stand in her own community.
“That sense of community here, I think it was lacking in Leesport because it was a sense of community, but it wasn’t where I actually live,” said Dollinger, who has lived in Myerstown for over 10 years. “I see people here at the grocery store and at school events and stuff, so it’s just fun that way.”
She had visited the Lebanon Farmers Market before opening her stand but noticed a difference in the atmosphere within the last 6 to 8 months that piqued her interest in moving her business there.
“It was kind of dead but we came by [recently] and it was happening,” said Dollinger. “It had picked up and it just seemed like a different vibe.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get my own space in my own community.”
Dollinger briefly considered getting her own storefront but preferred the community aspect of the market.
“I love people that just come to the market and they’re not just coming in for cupcakes, they’re coming to get their meat and cheese and their danishes and a fish taco,” she said. “It’s a much different vibe and [there is] just a really big sense of community here.
“If I had my own shop, I feel like I’d be isolated.”
She also particularly appreciates the historical aspect of the Lebanon Farmers Market.
“There’s so much history here,” said Dollinger. “I’m a big history buff so I love being in a space where so many other things have happened right here.
“I wouldn’t trade it for a storefront or anything at this point.”
Since moving to the market, her business and her workload have expanded. Previously, she was working three or four days per week, but now she is working six or even seven.
“It’s been a little bit of a struggle for me, but it’s a good struggle to have,” said Dollinger. “It’s work, but it’s welcome work.”
The name “Red’s Cupcakery” is inspired by a nickname she has had since she was a child.
“I wanted something that had a sense of me, but without having to put my name on it,” said Dollinger. “[The name] really is just me.”
While Dollinger is the face of Red’s Cupcakery, she has not taken on the responsibility alone. Her daughters, ages 26 and 16, and her husband have helped her run the stand.
“Thank God I have help,” said Dollinger. “When I’m overwhelmed, sometimes they’ll just show up and take over so I can finish decorating and stuff.
“It makes [the business] more personal and it feels really good to have support.”
Because she spends so much time running the business, Dollinger is still working on figuring out a work-life balance.
“It’s a struggle, trying to find that work-life balance again,” said Dollinger. “That’s really important to me [because] my family is everything, so that’s probably been the biggest challenge so far.”
However, her love of baking keeps her going and makes the work easier.
“I just really enjoy it, so it’s not too much in the way of work,” said Dollinger. “I could do this all day.”
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