A wall of sweet smelling baked goods greets customers as they walk into Cakes, etc. by Cindy. To enter the bakery, just look for the neon open sign on the ground floor of the Acorn Inn. People can find the owner Cindy Pettiford behind the counter along with her husband, Cory Pettiford and her three sons. 

The bakery opened last year on July 15, 2023 and has continued to produce goods ranging from pound cakes to cobblers to banana pudding. Before baking, Cindy worked as a part time customer service worker and notary on top of baking at home. 

Sarah T. Moore | Elon News Network
Cindy Pettiford makes key lime pies on April 12 for Cakes, etc. by Cindy.

It took her and her husband a while to find the right place. However, on one of Cindy’s notary assignments, she was introduced to the sister of the owner of the Acorn Inn. After a conversation about cakes and Cindy’s intention of opening up her own business, the owner’s sister said they were looking to fill the space at the Inn and Cindy jumped at the opportunity. 

The main motivator for opening up her business was her faith. She had already been baking for 20 years and had no intention of ever moving her work to an official site. However, she said she felt moved by her faith. 

“It said it’s time for you to do it and I just refused and decided I wasn’t going to listen,” Cindy said. “It’s like, you’re going to listen. And so eventually, I got with the program and I started looking for places.” 

Her hesitance was not always there. When she was a kid she started off with an Easy Bake Oven and then upgraded to a real oven when she went to culinary school. Throughout her primary schooling, she dreamed of the day she could open up her own restaurant. But, after listening to a hospitality professor at the culinary school talk about his negative experiences, her reluctance to pursue her dream solidified. 

Cory helps out with other tasks beyond baking when he has a free day from work. He has seen a significant change in her energy in a positive way ever since pursuing her baking dreams. 

“It’s like her having her own business is more rewarding for her,” Cory said. 

One of the main hurdles with running the bakery is advertising. The town of Elon has strict rules on advertisements including the placing of temporary signs around Elon. 

According to the town’s code of ordinances, owners who want to display signs advertising their business can do so according to section 16.15 that allows for freedom of speech and expression within the limits of time, manner and place. However in section 23.94, the administration has the right to remove any items that encroach on the street, sidewalk and common areas. Further on in section B, it says the temporary license to post signage can be denied, suspended or revoked and that the decision is final unless appealed to the town manager. 

Cindy has tried to post signage around the town, but has faced challenges due to the ordinance. With the removal of a main source of bringing in traffic, she has had to rely on word of mouth as well as using the Nextdoor app. 

Although this has been helpful, her location makes it difficult to bring in more of the Elon student community. Cindy is approaching the one year mark in less than three months. To continue to grow her business, she plans to be more involved in the Elon community and try to appeal to the council to readjust the advertising rules around town. 

“There’s thousands of students I’m unable to reach,” Cindy said. 

When times are slow, one of her main reasons to keep going are her customers. Cory said they are her cheerleaders and allow for a community to be built within the bakery. 

“This reminds me kind of like a barbershop,” Cory said. “Everybody comes in and laughs and jokes and has a good time. And we make sure that their experience is great.” 

Her old school, old fashioned baking brings in people from all over including Greensboro, Burlington and even those visiting from out of town. She said her favorite part about baking is the customers. 

“Seeing the joy on people’s faces or their expressions, I would call that the joy of baking for me,” Cindy said.