When I was a kid, I found my small town to be quite boring. Raised in Marion, South Carolina, it was often considered a treat to visit Florence and especially Myrtle Beach. Throughout the years, I would often meet people who weren’t from “around these parts.” I’ll never forget the cool new girl who arrived to my school in eighth grade. Cool simply because she came from California. When I was told this information, I asked what I have always asked when someone arrives in South Carolina – “Why in the world did you want to come here?” This state was all I knew, and I just couldn’t imagine someone wanting to come here, especially from the glamorous California.
Hartsville resident Brad Carr ended up here in South Carolina after spending a portion of his childhood in Louisiana. When he turned 18, Brad started baking as a hobby. Inspired by the idea of creating the perfect chocolate chip cookie, Brad had two other important ingredients at hand – the unconditional love and support of his parents, who were excited to see their son’s passion begin to develop. After working in local restaurants and bakeries to gain experience, Brad began to craft some pretty delectable recipes of his own. Brad spent some time in the University of South Carolina’s Culinary Arts Program, but it’s his work experience at these local businesses that have helped him mold his craft the most. “In the early days, I had friends that were chefs. They would give me feedback and help develop recipes. Those were fun times!”
Brad decided to follow his heart and build a baking business. And so the magic began on Griggs Circle! “When I first had the idea of starting a bakery, we planned to feature a small variety of breads and pastries at various farmers’ markets around the Pee Dee. I would bake late at night and into the early mornings to have enough products to sell at the markets the next day.” Brad and his wife Kimberly soon transformed the den of their home into a packaging area. “It’s pretty crazy to look back and see how much stuff I baked in our little residential oven for those markets.” By October 2016, Brad and Kimberly opened Griggs Circle Bakery in Hartsville. “We decided to open a store for a few reasons. First, we were outgrowing our home. Second, we saw that there was a market for our type of bakery in Hartsville and we felt we had an adequate customer base to get it off the ground. And lastly, we needed to move into a commercial facility so we could produce a wider range of products.”
The folks in Hartsville were eager to try Brad’s delicious items and he and Kimberly welcomed the success with open arms and humble hearts. He admits owning his own business has been a humbling experience, as he has learned to be grateful for any support received from family, friends, and the community of Hartsville. “I’m super grateful for the awesome people at Main Street who were instrumental in helping us get started. We have good relationships with the people in city management that support our dreams. The Chamber of Commerce also helps us out a ton.” According to Brad, there are a lot of awesome new things in Hartsville to experience and plenty to be proud of, as the city is constantly growing. However, what he and Kimberly cherish most is being a part of One Church Hartsville. “Those great people have been the most loving and supportive community we can ask for.”
At Griggs Circle Bakery, you can find many delicious items to satisfy your sweet tooth. There are multiple different types of cookies to choose from (including gluten-free options), muffins, Danish, scones, Rice Krispies Treats, brownies, blondies, pies, cupcakes, cakes… The list goes on! All items are beautiful and eye catching, guaranteed to make your mouth water and stomach growl in anticipation. I can’t forget to mention the bread Brad and his team make. From Everything Bagels to focaccia, spinach artichoke, rolls and more, the only challenging aspect of walking in Griggs Circle Bakery is deciding which one to try! If you’re in the mood for something different, the bakery now offers lunch boxes that include your choice of sandwich, side, and a fresh baked cookie. They’ve also started a weekly bread subscription that bundles together different types of breads for a flat weekly rate. Out of all of the items he makes, however, Brad most enjoys creating custom birthday cakes. “When someone brings me an idea for a cake, such as a theme or a specific style, I love being able to create the cake they describe to me.” If you happen to visit their Facebook page, you’ll see not only the baked goods offered, but also pictures of the wonderful cakes this talented soul has created. And in case you were wondering, he has most definitely created the perfect chocolate chip cookie!
In addition to running his own business and playing an active role in his church, Brad is also the father of Alice Belle and newborn Charlie. All of which he admits occasionally requires lots of prayer and faith! But thankfully, he has quite the support system to help him navigate through waters that can be bit rougher than others. “I have an awesome staff that are all rock stars. My wife is a champion; she’s an encouragement and a strong, amazing woman. I have a solid community of friends and family. We all go through good seasons and tough seasons. But, tough seasons don’t last forever and I feel that it’s how you come out of them that determine what kind of person you are.” His parents continue to inspire him today, as well as his in-laws. “They have all worked hard for everything they have. They value honesty, faith, and determination. They’re the kind of people I aspire to be one day.”
I’ve known Brad for several months now and I’m blessed to not only have trained under his mentorship but to also call him a friend. I can honestly say he’s the sort of person I aspire to be one day. And while I asked him when we first met why he wanted to live in such a small town, I’ve realized now that it’s people like Brad who are the secret ingredient in the charm of these small towns. The type of people who are warm and welcoming, gracious and forgiving… And leave a little bit of love and light everywhere they go, making the community and the world a much “sweeter” place to be.
Griggs Circle Bakery | 116 N 5th St, Hartsville | 843.309.9375 | griggscirclebakery.com