A sweet ending: Woman turns COVID disruption into sugary business | News, Sports, Jobs

OBSERVER Photo by MJ Stafford Sydney Bigelow stands in her new baked goods shop, Sydney’s Sweet Treats, at the Boardwalk in Dunkirk.

Bigelow’s sinfully delicious baked goods have “gone viral” in Dunkirk and Fredonia. After months of building her brand through third-party sales and a home business, she now has her own shop, Sydney’s Sweet Treats, on the Boardwalk next to the Dunkirk Pier.

Her move to dispensing viral sweets started out with a virus: COVID-19.

Bigelow was previously best known for her softball prowess, smacking big hit after big hit for Fredonia High’s team in the mid-2010s. After graduating, she went to Mercyhurst North East and continued her softball career there.

But then came March 2020 and COVID-19 shutdowns.

Photo submitted by Sydney Bigelow Cookies and muffins are just a few of the sweet treats Sydney Bigelow offers at her new Dunkirk shop.

“We were in Florida and we got to play our very last game and we got sent home,” she recalled. Then, Mercyhurst permanently closed the North East campus. “It was like, you guys can’t come back.”

Bigelow wound up doing online coursework at SUNY Fredonia, “but it wasn’t for me.” She worked at a couple places, too.

In the moment, “I was baking at home and posting pictures online and all of a sudden, Fred’s (a Fredonia restaurant) reached out and said, ‘Why don’t you come work for us?’”

At first, she didn’t do any baking. However, Fred’s owner Devon Jones suggested he try out a few things as an experiment.

“It really took off,” she said.

Jones then said Bigelow should start a business from home with her baked goods. She did, and that took off, too. Eventually, “someone picked up cupcakes from my house and let me know about the Boardwalk.”

A space had just opened up there, and Bigelow snapped it up, signing the lease in January. Sydney’s Sweet Treats started there in early March.

The store is only open on Sundays, Bigelow explains that the quantity and variety of items she makes takes four days to do. She has no employees, but two volunteers from her family help out.

“We usually have a line. It goes a couple of doors down,” she said. “We have regulars who are amazing people. That’s probably my favorite part of the job — I’ve built so many relationships with people and it’s only been four weeks.”

Bigelow has an ambitious menu. During the OBSERVER’s visit, the board listed cookies, filled pastries, croissants, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, bagels, and granola.

Some ideas for new items “just come to mind. I did some research. I never want to do anything I see around here.”

Bigelow added, “I’m trying to give people things they don’t normally see. Something to look forward to during the week.”

She does not envision a set menu, noting that “people like the change in flavors… We’ll keep favorites but switch up other stuff.”

Dunkirk Mayor Kate Wdowiasz, the city Chamber of Commerce, and other officials held a ribbon cutting for Sydney’s Sweet Treats March 19.

“Mayor Wdowiasz and the city of Dunkirk taste buds are twinkling with joy with the addition of this new business to our waterfront,” according to a press release from City Hall. “Residents only need to follow the warm smell of cinnamon rolls to find this wonderful bakery mecca.”

Bigelow still has items for sale at Tuscany Market and Deli in Fredonia, as well.

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