‘It chokes me up sometimes’: Construction detours customers from century-old Clarksville bakery

Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 2:23 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For 100 years, one Clarksville bakery has united generations and families.

William’s Bakery has whisked hearts and stomachs in Clarksville for almost 120 years.

Now, construction is detouring customers away from the Indiana bakery. WAVE News talked to the owner about trying to make it through.

Small businesses look forward to the holidays. The increase in shoppers means more business. For one Indiana small business, the hardest part is getting people to ring the bell.

For more than a century, William’s bakery has served generation after generation, building a sweet reputation in the Indiana community.

“It chokes me up sometimes,” Earnest Polston, William’s Bakery Owner, said. “Because they are really good customers who care about the bakery. Because we have been here so long, I got some customers who are 90-something years old. I get four-generation wedding cakes sometimes.”

But for what feels like forever, this shop, built on hard work and a sweet tooth, has had some sour luck.

“For three months, [customers] were in front of my drive-through and I couldn’t use my drive-through,” Polston said.

He’s talking about the construction on North Clarksville Road just outside the store. Polston said it started in March, and was supposed to wrap up in Sept.

Instead, it’s still here, still re-routing traffic and detouring customers, which is hurting most of his business.

“They come here and have to drive a washboard to get to my bakery because the road is so bad,” Polston said. “And they’ll still come.”

The construction is leaking into the busiest time of the year. Christmas season usually brings a spike in businesses with the dinner rolls, cookies, and fruit cakes flying off the shelves.

But combine that eyesore with record inflation and it’s been tough to stay afloat.

“I am just praying to make it through til when prices go down because I cannot raise prices,” Polston said. “Customers just can’t afford it.”

But Polston is hoping to swing back in the right direction soon. So that his little shop in Clarksville can keep its doors open for another century, carrying that same recipe for success for years to come.

“I am proud of the business because I have worked hard to keep it going,” Polston said. “I am still working hard to keep it going. I hope I can.”

Polston said his loyal customers are keeping his business alive.