In the fourth of a series of articles celebrating the traders of Armley Town Street, WLD‘s Jess Wong catches up with independent trader Kim Grace, an Armley stalwart who is looking forward to retiring…
“If I wasn’t retiring, I would have just renewed my lease and carried on here,” says cake shop owner Kim Grace, expressing her deep affection for the Armley community.
For 43 years, Cake Craft Etc has been an integral part of Armley’s bustling neighbourhood, delighting customers with its decorating supplies.
However, this beloved cake decorating business, owned by Kim Grace since 2016, is set to close its doors at the end of August as she embraces retirement. Despite the closure, the connection between Cake Craft Etc and the Armley community serves as a shining example of the neighbourhood’s friendly nature.
Kim’s shop, located outside a bus stop, has led her to meet so many different people from all backgrounds.
“Lots of people stand at the bus stop every day, and they always have a little word with you. People are just nice; they won’t ignore you,” she says as she praises the friendly nature of Armley residents.
“I run cake decorating classes at night. And so when we’re leaving at 9pm at night, particularly in winter, it’s dark, but nobody feels frightened,” added Kim.
You don’t see as much antisocial behaviour on Town Street as you used to do due to more patrolling police and regulations like no drinking on streets.”
While acknowledging that Armley still has some challenges, Kim believes that the negative aspects are often magnified. “It is because of the negative press, the good things about Armley are never really discussed. It’s only the negative bits. It’s just that people do seem to focus on the negative, instead of the positive.”
Kim praised organisations that have worked tirelessly to address community needs.
She said: “There are a lot of people who do good work in Armley. It’s a caring community because there are people like the Armley Action Team and Armley Helping Hands. There is a lot of community spirit here.”
Kim highlights the unity within the community: “During the pandemic, the bakery aside worked with the Armley Helping Hands to make sure that pensioners and people who couldn’t come out could get the fresh bread deliveries. That was so nice.”
Transforming her beloved hobby into a thriving enterprise, Kim and Cake Craft Etc have become a destination for cake-decorating enthusiasts, attracting visitors from nearby towns such as Wetherby and Featherstone and even as far as Rochdale.
She mentioned that her customers’ loyalty and the community’s support have enabled her business to thrive.
“If I wasn’t retiring, I would have just renewed my lease and carried on here,” she added. “I know I’m closing, but I’m not closing because of Armley; I’m closing because it’s time for me to retire.”
Although a new chapter awaits both Kim and Armley, the memories made between Cake Craft Etc and the community will last for many years to come.