By Grace Farrar, River Bluff HS (Lexington HS)
Bakeries have long dotted Columbia’s landscape in many forms, but few know the true community value each sweet shop holds. Besides the obvious pastries, bakeries provide important services to customers and local merchants alike. The sense of community, opportunities for connections, and quality service local bakeries provide is an invaluable, though often overlooked, part of Columbia’s culture.
What sets these bake shops apart is not only the unmistakable delectability of their goods, but also the attentive experience they provide to the consumer. Many patrons enjoy the atmosphere of the bakery so much that they make it a regular part of their lives.
Ally Selig, owner and operator of Ally & Eloise Bakeshop, knows firsthand the positive impact bakeries have on the citizens of Columbia.
“We have several people that come in every week to buy a dozen cookies,” Ally stated. “We have people that buy birthday cakes from us every year.” Though these repeat customer come primarily for pastries, they are treated to a side order of kindness and hospitality.
On the other side of town, employees of the Silver Spoon Bake Shop are equally aware of the important role they play in the city’s culture.
“[We create] a real sense of community. People have said they’ve had their first date here; a guy asked his wife to marry him here, things like that. We’re just thankful for our customers because they’ve made us a part of their life and we just appreciate that,” Silver Spoon employee, Jennifer Austin, explained fondly.
Columbia has shaped her life since birth, and her time working at the Silver Spoon has intensified her connections to the capital city. Not only does she form personal connections with customers, but the shop has also opened doors for relationships in the professional world.
By definition, the Silver Spoon Bake Shop is a bakery. However, sales of paintings, purses, locally brewed coffee, and calligraphy classes transform the shop to a next level hub of culture and sophistication.
In particular the calligrapher, Paulene Cruse, has become intertwined in the bakery after being friends with the owner. “We have a local calligrapher that has some things displayed here, and she’ll also do classes here after hours,” Jennifer said. “She’s just become a friend of the bakery.”
Bags and purses also line the walls of the store, and just as everything else in the bakery, they have a story to tell. They are made and sold by local artisan Mary Catherine Kunze, who puts on trunk shows and special holiday promotions at the bakery. She even created a bag that Jennifer used on her wedding day. These sort of personal connections are just a few of are the wonderful ways the Silver Spoon Bake Shop is integrated into the food and art scene in Columbia.