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Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Cupcakes offer former football player a sweet second act

Even on a late Sunday afternoon, a steady stream of customers can be found walking through the doors at Gigi's in Carrollwood, a place where gourmet cupcakes are served up fresh daily.

With flavors such as orange dreamsicle, cherry margarita and hot fudge sundae, it's clear Gigi's cupcakes aren't ordinary confections. The unique selection, eye-catching decorations and rich flavors are what drew Lipi and Fred Reid to Gigi's when they were looking for a franchise business to open after Fred's professional football career came to an end.

An avid baker, Lipi liked the idea of turning that passion into a business, but she didn't relish the notion of her and Fred having to invent the wheel on their own.

“It's hard to start up on your own,” said the former lawyer, who now works for Hillsborough County Public Schools in addition to owning the Carrollwood shop.

That's when Lipi and Fred discovered Gigi's — a Tennessee-based cupcake franchise that has grown to serve 23 states since it opened in 2008. With its ever-evolving product line and continuing business assistance, it was the perfect fit, both Reids said.

“They help you so much,” Lipi said.

While Gigi's is a franchise, Fred and Lipi have put their own spin on the Carrollwood business. First off, they're often seen in the store, serving customers and helping staff. Secondly, Fred lends a touch of celebrity to the store.

Originally from Hillsborough County, Fred Reid graduated from King High School in 2000. During his high school football career, he ran for a Hillsborough County record 2,043 yards. After high school, he moved on to Mississippi State and found himself briefly on the  Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster before the 2005 season.

When Fred's NFL career didn't pan out, he looked north, where he ended up playing professionally for the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers. During his five-year CFL career, Reid ran for 4,505 yards and scored 22 touchdowns. He led the CFL in rushing in 2010, but his career came to an end when he tore his ACL in two places.

Knowing Fred's career was coming to an end, the couple began exploring business opportunities and opened up Gigi's on Dec. 28, 2012.

“It was the right time for me to call it quits and get started with life after football,” Fred said.

Just in time for the store's first anniversary, Gigi's product line is expanding to include homemade cookies and wedding cakes. In fact, the cookies will debut in time for Christmas, Lipi said.

The Reids have one daughter, Riya, 2, and they're expecting their second, a son, soon.

Gigi's Carrollwood, 11640 N. Dale Mabry Highway, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. To find out what's fresh daily, “like” Gigi's Cupcakes Carrollwood on Facebook.

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