Wright's Bake Shop says farewell

REED CITY — The oven is cold, the counters and floors free of flour dust and the trays void of the sweet treats formerly found in Wright's Bake Shop in Reed City. Saturday marked the final day of business.

Bakery owners Don and Karen Wright and John Hanna announced early last month their decision to close the business due to increasing costs for ingredients and other growing expenses. Since the news broke, the business has been flooded with customers, desperate to hang onto lifelong memories and have their last taste of Wright's cookies, bread, pies and world famous fried cinnamons.

On Saturday morning before the bakery opened its doors for the last time, anticipation hung in the air for the Wrights as they prepared to say goodbye to the friends who have been patrons for decades.

"It feels like Christmas Eve," Karen said. "It's real exciting for us. I'm ready for a new chapter, a new adventure. You can't fly if you don't leap, so here we go."

Don agreed.

"Its our last day and I feel wonderful," he said. "It's been a wonderful time working with Reed City people."

Hanna, who was busy baking the day's final treats with fellow employees, looked as calm as ever as he prepared batch after batch of cinnamon rolls with the last of the shop's ingredients.

"We made a cherry fry cake because we had the mix," he said with a laugh. "Other than that it's what everyone has come here for an counted on, but we just made more of it. We deliberately planned on that, so we didn't make just one batch of sour cream cookies — we made five. We didn't make just 10 dozen world famous fried cinnamon, we probably made close to 40 dozen. And more apple fritters than I could count."

In the 20 days since the closing announcement, the bakery served more than 5,400 customers. The business even sold out of product by 10:30 a.m. some days.

"If anything, this last week has taught us the early bird gets the doughnut," Hanna added. "If you wait until noon there's not going to be any left."

Friends Jim White, Earl Burlnear and Gary Schlaack met at Wright's on a daily basis early each morning for coffee. Saturday was no different.

"It's pretty sad," Burlnear said. "We'll have to find a new place."

The others had similar outlooks.

"It's been a great run," Schlaack added. "We were just reminiscing about the great times we've had at this table over the years."

Many positive aspects come to mind when the trio thinks of their past at the business.

"I think of my childhood because I grew up here," White said. "It's the last original business in town and they're leaving."

The group remembers the number of friends they've made and seen thanks to the bakery, and how the business has given them plenty of positive memories through the years.

During the bake shop's final week, the Wrights invited the public to bring in two or more cans or nonperishable food items to benefit the Reed City Area Ministerial Association Food Pantry. As a thank-you to each individual who participated, Wright’s provided a doughnut and a cup of coffee.

The response to the drive was positive and food was stacked neatly behind the bakery counter.

"We were hoping we could do something to help the pantry after we can't help them any longer, so I think it's been a great idea and we've had a wonderful response," Don said. "Thanks, everybody."

Karen was pleased by the offerings brought in by the community.

"People are really excited to show us what they brought and it's been going really well," Karen said. "Even when we ran out of doughnuts and cookies, people kept bringing things in anyway."

The reality of Wright's Bake Shop coming to an end still is an illusion for Hanna.

"Some of it hasn't really sunk in," he said. "It's probably not going to sink in until the early part of next week when I should be here and I don't have to be here and won't be here."

The Wrights spent the final hours of business assisting customers, giving hugs and accepting well wishes before locking the doors and turning off the lights at the end of the day for the last time.

"There have been a lot of nice memories," Karen said, tearing up. "It's hard because we have to say goodbye to a lot of our really good friends, but it's been fun."