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14MarciMarci’s Cakes and Bakes has done a lot to support the town of Hope Mills. Now the town is returning the favor.

Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the Trade Street business, operated by Marci Mang for the last three years, is the latest winner of the Hope Mills Small Business of the Month Award.

Mang will be officially recognized at a meeting of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners in a few weeks. Of Mang, Warner said, “She has brought new life to an old building, redecorating and repurposing (it) for her own bakery.’’

Warner especially praised Mang for helping to revitalize Trade Street, which is off the beaten path in Hope Mills.

“I’m so proud of the beautiful cakes she designs and the wonderful baked goods,’’ Warner said, “but more importantly, I’m proud of all she contributes to all of our community.’’

Warner thanked Mang for her imagination and creativity and “for making Hope Mills sweet.’’ Mang said she tries to give back to the community in different ways. She is currently offering cake pop and cupcake classes for anyone interested, with the latest class starting Saturday, March 9.

Mang said she puts out a schedule on Facebook and Instagram (@marciscakesandbakes) when a new class is offered. She asks everyone interested to register by calling 910-425-6377. Each class is limited to a maximum of 20 people.

“They learn how to make the cake pops and what kind of chocolate to use to dip the cake pops,’’ Mang said. “They’ll leave the bakery with cake pops in hand.’’

Mang also opens the doors of her business to local pastors. “We held a Bible study meeting in the bakery,’’ she said. “A group of pastors will be meeting there to talk about Easter services in the area.’’

One of Mang’s most unique initiatives is a mentoring program for young women who may be struggling at school or dealing with personal issues in their home lives. Those who have an interest in baking can come to the store and get training in making and decorating cakes and cake pops.

“I think any kind of specialized skill like that is something you can always use in the future,’’ Mang said. “It gives you confidence to find something you are passionate about and that puts your hands to work.’’

Mang said she’s seen good results from most of the women who have taken part in the program.

It’s all part of a passion Mang developed for baking that started when she was a girl, growing up two doors down from a bakery. She used to love going to the bakery and seeing the things that were in the window and in the shop.

That love continues today in her own business. “I love seeing kids’ faces when they come in,’’ she said. “I try to keep items affordable. Families come in and enjoy something together. (My products are) not processed. Not mass produced.’’

She brings the same passion to the job of designing special-order buttercream cakes for any occasion, and she takes the role she plays in designing and making those cakes seriously.

She’s open to any ideas customers have for a cake and doesn’t shy away when the client begins by saying, “You’re going to think I’m crazy,’’ she said.

“You want a teddy bear dressed in leather, we can work it out,’’ she said. “This week I did a spider with a Minecraft character on its back.’’

She had a child who was a big fan of zombies; she turned out a zombie-themed birthday cake.

“I love when people pick up cakes, and I know I’m part of their special day,’’ she said.

Mang’s outreach to Hope Mills extends beyond people who leave her shop with purchases. She regularly donates leftover baked goods to various local charities like churches, the Boy Scouts, fire stations, the ALMSHOUSE and the senior citizens center.

“I try to rotate them,’’ she said. “We always try to get them someplace in Hope Mills that can utilize what we have.’’

Marci’s Cakes and Bakes is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at 5474 Trade St. in Hope Mills.

For more information, visit the Facebook page, Marci’s Cakes and Bakes, or call 910-425-6377.

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