A Black-owned bakery in Knoxville, Tennessee is celebrating 25 years of exceptional service. Chandra Taylor and her family opened Mer-Mer’s Bakery in 1998 at 617 N Gay St., where the store still stands strong.
“It was me, and my mother along with my two daughters, Mercedes, which is Mer-Mer, and Chrisma, which is Chrissy my youngest one,” Taylor said in an interview with WATE.
Although she didn’t have much money 25 years ago, Taylor had a strong business plan and an intense passion for baking.
“I baked all my life,” she said. “I baked with my grandmothers and great-grandmothers and when I was at the girls club back in ’79, I baked cakes, and they told us how to decorate cakes and how to present the cakes and I just kind of liked it.”
Taylor took advantage of her opportunity in 1998 when she saw an empty building on Gay Street. The Tennessee entrepreneur talked to the owner of the building and convinced him to let her rent it.
“I explained to him what I wanted to do, and I explained to him that I had no money, but I had a talent,” she said. “And I knew that if he let me come in, I could make him some rent. He gave me the keys without any rent or anything for the first four months of the bakery. That was amazing.”
Taylor’s daughter Chrisma, who was just 6 when the bakery opened, said she has enjoyed watching her mother’s exceptional relationship with longtime customers.
“I’m just very proud of her. It just shows a little bit of my mama’s character and how she’s very strong and strong-willed,” Chrisma told WATE.
Taylor, incredibly proud of her beloved pound cake, said faith keeps her going.
“It’s the Lord,” she said. “I’ve only been here by the grace of God. 25 years, you know. I’ve caught myself trying to quit and I’m going to slack up or I’m going to slow down or I’m going to work and go over and help my friend over at his store sugar bakers but every time it seems like it puts me right back in here.”