End of a 91 year run

A sight few hoped they would ever see — the shelves at the bakery completely empty and the bakery closed.

We all knew that it would come. Someday.
It’s been a few years now that brothers Don and Ed Duncan warned us retirement was near. Eventually, they said, without the right person in place to take it over, they would have to close the doors. It was time.
This past week, after 91 years in business, the Bakery closed.
“It’s sad,” said Vicki Schmidt, as she walked out to her car, trying to see where she was walking as she held her first armload of baked goods. “But I don’t blame them, I don’t blame them at all. It’s time for them to have some time to themselves. Those boys worked hard…” her voice trailed off as she fought back tears.
The brothers had planned to say nothing when it was time. They simply wanted to close the doors, quietly head home for a full night’s rest, and humbly appreciate so many wonderful years in business. Originally, that was going to be on December 31st. Rumors had circulated that that was the plan and business had already begun to pick up as a result. But after Ed fell on the ice the other week and broke his wrist during a delivery stop, Don decided the end date needed to be moved up. He didn’t want to put Ed through the pain.
“4 o’clock Christmas Eve,” Duncan said. “The supply room is empty, we don’t have a lot left. We’ll keep going while we can but we hope to finish out on Christmas Eve.”
It was a miracle there was anything left to bake last Friday.
The frantic rush to get one last donut let alone a dozen, or a loaf of bread or any cookies grew as the week wore on and word got out. The brothers and their team hoped that what they were able to bake could satisfy the steady line of customers in and out all day. But as those that made it to the counter bought as much as they possibly could, limits had to be placed on what could go out the door to ensure there was something left for others.
When the calls came in from local media outlets, the demand and lines grew longer.
“That’s why we never ever wanted to make anything public,” said Don, with a smile. “Because this would have started a long time ago, with the rush. And it’s worse than we thought it was going to be.”
As Don, Ed and their team worked hard in the back to bake the last of their signature long johns, nutty donuts, bismarks and more, they laughed, joked and visited with old friends around their old, well-worn butcher block tables. It was almost like any other day if you didn’t know better — all the while, their well-worn hands automatically continued to go through the motions of cutting and pressing out dough. Fifty-three years on the job will do that for you, that’s how long it’s been that Don went to work for his dad. Ed wasn’t far behind. The two have risen in the wee hours of the morning to bake their signature pastries and been together in business ever since.
“When a community loses one of their iconic businesses like our Flandreau Bakery, it’s a sad day,” said Mayor Dan Sutton. “Life constantly changes and this is simply one of those changes a community is never ready to face. My hope is that someone will work to purchase the business to carry on the Flandreau Bakery tradition…I guess only time will tell what the future holds.”
That may be more of a reality than previously thought. Sutton, a realtor himself, has fielded calls from investors possibly interested in the property, if not the business.
So have others. Don and Ed say they’re not 100 percent sure what’s next for them or the bakery, but they did go on the record to say they plan to stick around to help train someone who is interested in taking over the business.
They both are also looking forward to more time with friends and family, and enjoying this community that they have always called home.
“Thank you,” said Don, in regard to those who have supported them over the years. “We appreciate all of the business that you’ve let us take care of for you….91 years, all successful, through the dirty ‘30’s, World Wars…thank you. Flandreau and the entire area, the Tri-State area, we’ve had customers from all over. It was a good trip…that’s all I can say.”

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