When Mickey Stevens stopped by the dentist’s office to pick up his wife Lilian, he left behind a flyer advertising fruitcakes for sale in support of Kiwanis clubs of Greater Victoria.
“The next morning while I was out, the dental office called and said they wanted three cakes,” Stevens said. “Since then they’ve phoned and said ‘Can you bring another one.’ That’s how it happens.”
That’s how Stevens went from selling 10 fruitcakes during his first year with a Winnipeg-based Kiwanis Club in the 1970s to selling 600 last year in Greater Victoria. Since Stevens moved to Saanich in 1986, he’s been scouting prospective customers everywhere he goes.
He’ll approach someone in a grocery store parking lot when he spots a cart without a fruitcake. He’ll even solicit new business at a bus stop when the opportunity presents itself.
“I have a lot of people call me The Fruitcake Guy,” Stevens said. “As long as it sells me cakes, I’m happy with it. Anything to sell cakes.”
The cakes are an easy sell for Stevens, who admits he doesn’t like asking for charitable donations without offering something in return.
“It’s our own recipe and we know it’s a good recipe,” Stevens said, adding that it’s the only one on the market that’s been adequately aged.
He knows just about everything there is to know about the fruitcake – its historical significance in the days of Queen Victoria, the intricacies of Weston Fruitcake Company’s original recipe and how the hefty cakes weigh-in at a half a pound heavier than labelled on the box.
“There’s a bit of a saying that it brings a person good luck to have Christmas cake,” Stevens said with a laugh.
If Stevens is right, there might be link between the two boxes of fruitcake that sit on his kitchen counter and the fact that he recently celebrated his 95th birthday.
Battling his desire to reconnect with loyal customers, many of whom he has known for decades, Stevens handed his contacts over to the five Kiwanis Clubs of Greater Victoria this year. Instead, he has focused 100 per cent of his efforts on recruiting.
“I said if one person can sell 600 cakes, surely you can find one or two people to look after a fifth of that. And they did. They became enthused and this year they ordered 1,080.”
Stevens isn’t just The Fruitcake Guy. When not pushing cakes, he keeps busy with an array of other volunteer endeavours including delivering library books to people who are isolated from the community. The retiree is also the president of the 800 Pacific Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association, a role that sees him regularly visit with veterans.
Anyone interested in purchasing a fruitcake can contact Will Dunlop at Kiwanis Victoria, 1419 Mallek Crs. or 250-595-3133 between 8 a.m. and noon weekdays or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.