At only 17, Erika Haney recently opened her own bakery in downtown Andrews, where cupcakes and other baked goods are noticeably delicious. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: Andrews bringing in new businesses

    In seventh grade, Erika Haney did a detailed project on what she wanted to do when she grew up. At 17 years old, she already has made her dreams come true.
    She opened Erika’s Bakery in downtown Andrews on Locust Street on Dec. 17. She grew up in Andrews, and didn’t even look anywhere else to start her business.
    “I’ve always loved to bake, and I wanted to be in my hometown,” Haney said.
    She makes and sells cupcakes, muffins, cakes, brownies, and candies. Customers can even order specialty cakes for all occasions. Haney started learning how to bake when she was 4 years old from her grandmother.
    Haney’s red velvet cupcakes already have proven to be popular – she said she has to make 50 a day – but, her milk chocolate chip cupcakes, Oreo cupcakes and Reese’s cupcakes also are customer favorites.
    “We have been very blessed,” said Haney’s mother, Teresa, who helps with the business. “The community has supported her. That’s why I love living in a small community. Everyone is very supportive.”
    Erika’s Bakery is just one of new businesses that recently opened in town. Andrews Chamber of Commerce President Gayle Horton thinks the three restaurants that opened in the second half of 2015 – Myaca’s Sea & Soul Food, MakAly’s on Main and Hoppy Trout Brewing Co. – anchored the comeback.
    “I think people have just discovered Andrews,” she said.
    Horton said she doesn’t think Andrews had anything to do with businesses leaving the town, and that other factors were involved with their departures.
    Horton opened her first Andrews business, a bed and breakfast, about 22 years ago. She has watched Andrews change over the years.
    “For me, I feel like we came a long, long way,” she said.
    Horton praised the beautification efforts of the garden club, as well as the encouragement offered by the chamber and local businesses. She said incentives encouraged by Project Andrews, like reduced rent offered by landlords, help get businesses started.
    She said Erika’s Bakery won’t be the newest business for long. Berry Twisted is becoming an ice cream store called Scoops Creamery and moving downtown next to Hoppy Trout, with an opening likely at the end of January.
    Horton also has talked with an artist interested in opening an art museum as well as a blacksmith interested in opening a shop.
    Horton said it’s exciting that businesses like Burnt Branch Creations, Oh Suzannah Music Studio, FernCrest Winery Tasting Room and Valleytown Quilt Shop decided to open in Andrews over the last year.
    Stephanie Carver opened Burnt Branch Creations, a shop full of a variety of mountain-style handmade crafts and supplies for yarn and sewing projects, in October. She also provides lessons. She grew up in Marble and went to school in Andrews, so she wanted to her shop in Andrews to help improve the economy in the community she loves.
    “Unless someone takes a chance on it, it’s never going to grow,” Carver said. “So I took a chance.”
    Russell Adams bought out the old quilt shop in Andrews to open his own version in February with his wife, Rhonda. They sell quilts, materials to make quilts and do machine quilting. Next month, they plan to start a free Block of the Month class.
    Adams came to Andrews for his business because it’s his hometown. In fact, his landlord is his neighbor from his childhood home, and the neighboring business is owned by the mother of one of his best friends from high school.
    “I don’t know why more people don’t move down here,” he said.
    Not only does Adams think the town is beautiful, but there’s great community support among businesses. Horton agreed.
    “Everyone can succeed if we all keep working together,” she said.
    When there are setbacks, like wildfires this fall, the local businesses owners are all in it together, longtime store owner Dean Williams said.
    Horton called Williams, owner of Dean’s Music, Consignment & Art, a survivor of the ups and downs. He said it’s great to see new businesses moving in around his establishment.
    “We are seeing new hope for Andrews in new businesses and the new businesses going to open soon,” Williams said.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message at 837-5122.