Everything for a party (except the cake)

by Lauren Dowdle, content director
photos courtesy of A Birthday Place

For at-home bakers or families getting ready to celebrate a birthday, they’ll find everything they need for the next special occasion at Pelham’s A Birthday Place. As the staff likes to say, customers will find “everything but the cake.”

Owner Patricia Papalardo opened the storefront last spring with her nieces Kathryn Esquivel and Allyson McPoland, following decades in the baking industry. Papalardo attended pastry school in the 1980s before working for larger companies. 

That’s where she realized the need at-home bakers had for cake decorating items, especially edible images. So, she decided to start an online business about 15 years ago, and it’s only grown since then.

Patricia Papalardo (center) owns and operates A Birthday Place with her neices, Kathryn Esquivel (left) and Allyson McPoland (right).

Her niece, Esquivel, began working with her in 2013 to help with the online business. She found herself meeting customers at different places — like around Helena and the Pelham Post Office — to give them their online orders. With the need for a storefront evident, they decided to open A Birthday Place in Pelham last year.

The store opened its doors the same weekend the quarantine started, so the new venture hasn’t come without a few struggles. But overall, Esquivel says they’ve loved being able to bring the store to their community.

“Every single day, someone comes in and says they didn’t know we were here,” she says. “I love being able to talk to people face-to-face.”

Their customers include everyone from parents looking to create a memorable party for their children to at-home bakers and small bakeries.

“There are so many bakers who work from home or have a small bakery and don’t want to order bulk supplies,” Esquivel says. “We can also order for them so they don’t have to have minimum costs.”

The store carries everything for cake decorating, including edible images, cake toppers, edible sugars, cake boards, cupcake stands, candles, sprinkles, frosting tips, and much more. They also have party favors, supplies, balloons, banners, themed plates, napkins, water bottle wrappers, piñatas, gift items, Pelham gear, and more.

“We’re trying to be that one-stop shop,” Esquivel says.

Their edible cake toppers are especially popular. With thousands of images they can pull from — and the ability to do custom images — the sky really is the limit for personalizing a cake. From a family photo to a child’s favorite cartoon character, they can print just about any edible image their customers can imagine.

“We’re trying to make everyone’s party special, whether it’s small or large,” she says. “If we don’t have what they’re looking for, we’ll try to find it or send them to someone who does. We’re always striving to meet their needs.”

A Birthday Place truly is a family run business, with sisters Esquivel and McPoland managing the shop. When residents purchase from this woman-run, family owned store, they can know they’re supporting local families — not large corporations. 

Between the two sisters, they have five boys. So, each purchase helps pay for their kids to play soccer or take a trip with Boy Scouts. Esquivel says working at the store also gives her a flexible schedule, which allows her to be on the PTO board, cub master in Scouts, and spend time with her children. 

Looking ahead, they hope to offer classes in the store and expand into even more party and decoration partnerships and supplies. They also have a local baker who offers treats in a pop-stand in the store, and they’d love to expand on those kinds of offerings.

“We have a lot of little things happening,” Esquivel says. “We’re quickly growing into the space.”

Whether it’s a mom looking to make their child’s cake extra special or an at-home baker who needs a specific item, A Birthday Place has them all covered.

In addition to making items available in the store and for curbside pickup, they also continue to sell on their website and on walmart.com.

A Birthday Place is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — and they may extend those hours in the future. The store is located at 2706 C Pelham Parkway (map) in Pelham.


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