See inside new cake shop hoping to be a sweet success in city centre landmark

A new cake shop is hoping to be a sweet success after opening its doors in a city centre landmark.

The Sweet Petite is the latest independent business to open as part of the ongoing renovation of the Hutchinson’s Buildings in High Street West, which most famously houses Mackie’s Corner.

Following the success of a cake trailer, which they pitched up in Seaburn over the summer, as well as strong delivery sales, husband and wife team Tommy and Laura Graham have been able to open their first shop.

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It’s allowed them to expand their range of home-made fudges, chocolates, cake jars, brownies, cheesecakes, brittles and more, as well as their signature chuffles – cheesecake truffles.

The Sweet Petite has opened at Mackie's Corner

They opened on December 21 for a day of festive cake sales, before their permanent opening from January 4, and the new addition saw queues down the street for people eager to tuck into the Christmas range.

Laura said: "We’ve always wanted a shop, but just couldn’t find anything suitable. Then we spotted this unit and it’s perfect. The cake trailer was very popular in Seaburn, but it was seasonal, we couldn’t open on wet days.”

The couple will still be using the cake trailer for events and potentially back at the seafront pitch near the Victorian tram shelter next summer, however, the shop has given them the chance to really establish their brand.

Harking back to the history of the site, they’ve fitted the shop with Victorian-style plaster coving and panelling, with large fridges to display their kaleidoscope of cakes, which are all made from scratch by the couple, as well as their family.

Thomas and Laura Graham inside of The Sweet Petite. Picture by Frank Reid

Laura said: “Our online sales have done really well and our delivery slots often sell out within 30 minutes of them going live, so the shop is an ideal way to give people who can’t get a delivery slot the chance to enjoy our cakes. It gives us the space to expand the range too.”

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Though a testing time for businesses, Laura says people’s renewed enthusiasm for supporting independents should hopefully help their business to prove a success.

"With the lockdowns people have really looked to use local businesses more,” she explained. “The support we’ve had is amazing and people would come to the trailer week after week.

"We do occasion cakes too, that’s how it all started, and you have people who place an order every year, so you become part of their celebrations. It’s old-fashioned, personal customer service, which you sometimes don’t get with chains.”

The business opened for one day only to sell its festive range. It will reopen on January 4.
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The Sweet Petite joins a string of independents in the historic buildings, including Black Door Hairdressing, Bou-chique and The Fat Unicorn deli.

City property developer Henry Kirtley and daughter Alex are renovating the Grade II-listed buildings to bring them back to their former glory and to house city businesses as part of the wider Historic High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).

Laura said: “There’s a lot of creative businesses in the buildings, each with their own unique offering. Each has a different style but they all complement each, it’s fantastic to be a part of.”

*The Sweet Petite will reopen from January 4, Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 7pm.

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Sweet Petite sells a wide range of sweet treats
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The Sweet Petite started as a cake trailer which proved a hit
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A treat from the festive range
Thomas Graham manning the hot drinks maker at Sweet Petite High Street West, Sunderland. Picture by Frank Reid
Cheesecakes are one of their best sellers
Home-made macaroons
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Sweet Petite High Street West, Sunderland. Picture by Frank Reid