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Sweet spot: 2nd generation of family runs Rosie’s in Tupelo

TUPELO — Rose McCoy is enjoying a much-deserved retirement.

But the bakery shop in Fairpark that bears her name — Rosie’s — is in good hands. Her son, Neal, and his wife, Holly, took over the business from her last fall.

The transition has been relatively seamless, just the way Neal and Holly had hoped. And it was all part of a plan set in motion about this time last year.

“My mom told us she was getting out, retiring,” Neal said. “She had started Creative Cakes in December 1991 and started off in a very small building. She expanded and had more of a retail presence.”

Creative Cakes became a staple in east Tupelo, but because of the rapid growth in sales of cookies and cupcakes, she opened Rosie’s in downtown Tupelo in October 2012.

McCoy said prior to Rosie’s opening that she wanted to re-create the feeling from decades earlier when Kermit’s Bakery operated downtown.

Business continued to grow at both her locations, but Rose was ready to step back after getting Rosie’s established. After all, she had worked three jobs and raised three boys while pursuing her dream to open Creative Cakes. After nearly a quarter-century running that business, starting another one and seeing both excel, it was time to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

She sold Creative Cakes last April, and in September, she left the keys to Rosie’s with Holly and Neal.

“We sat down and talked about a transition plan, and when she walked away, Holly stepped in and kept things running,” Neal said.

Holly learned a thing or two over the years, having married into the family, and took an even bigger role in the business when Rosie’s opened in 2012. She’s learned from the expert.

“I’ve been telling people I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Holly said. “But I’ve been kind of playing in it since Neal and I were married in the 90s. I started at the cake shop and she showed me a little bit back then. Then I started having kids and cut back a bit and just did the books for her.”

But as the kids grew, Holly got more involved when Rosie’s opened, and now she’s fully immersed in the business again.

And there were no worries of having to start from scratch.

“She left us all the recipes, all the products and we just kept on trucking,” Neal said.

During the transition last fall, Rosie’s lost a couple of employees, but they have since been replaced.

“It’s definitely teamwork; I tell everyone regularly that it’s not just me – it’s a team because I can’t do this by myself,” Holly said.

Other than a couple of new faces and a few more offerings, business hasn’t skipped a beat. The McCoys have added a large M&M dispenser and more candy lines. Ice cream is no longer sold.

“The recipes haven’t changed, the products are the same, the customer service is the same,” Neal said.

When it opened in 2012, it was officially Rosie’s Cookies, Cakes and Cream, but with the change in ownership, the name was tweaked to Rosie’s Bakery, with an emphasis on cupcakes, cookies and candy.

“The focus remains on the homemade baked products,” Neal said. “That will always be our signature.”

Rosie’s also will continue to introduce special products for special occasions. For example, it recently rolled out a new Mardi Gras-themed cupcake. For Elvis events like his birthday and the annual Elvis Presley Festival, Rosie’s will have peanut butter and banana cupcakes and blue suede cupcakes.

Holidays also bring out specialty cupcakes.

“They’re always sampling new cupcakes in the back, trying different things, and I have to be a taste-tester,” Neal said with no regrets.

In the kitchen, Rosie’s employs a baker, a cookie decorator and a cupcake decorator, while Holly floats around.

“They tell me what to do,” she said with a laugh.

Up front, the business employs two full-time and three part-time workers.

Neal, who also is the executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, doesn’t get involved much in the operations. He handles marketing and branding, along with shopping and taste-testing.

“I do know how to get groceries,” he said.

As for Rose, she’s spending quality time with her grandchildren.

“She’s probably busier now than when she owned two businesses,” Neal said with a laugh. “She enjoys the flexibility of picking up the grandkids after school, working on home projects whenever she wants . she’s really enjoying retirement. She worked really hard for a really long time.”

Neal and Holly didn’t want all that hard work to go to waste. They wanted to make sure they kept her legacy, her deft expertise with baked goodies, intact.

“Now it’s a second-generation-old bakery here in Tupelo that we’re proud of and we hope to continue the quality, maintain the name recognition and continue it forward,” Neal said.

— DENNIS SEID, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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