In 1961, her grandparents opened the doors to Agan's Bakery not far from its current location at 141 W. Main St. in Cartersville where her father, Jim Agan, opened shop in 1982.
Born the following year, Abbey Agan has grown up in the family-owned bake shop and recently took partial ownership of the establishment with excitement for the future.
In the wake of recent health concerns, Jim Agan has relied heavily on his eldest daughter, and middle child, for daily operations and management. With an eye to the future, Abbey Agan became his official business partner in September -- the move places Abbey Agan among the youngest bakery owners in the state.
"Me and my father own it together -- I own 49 percent and he owns 51 percent," Abbey Agan said. "I feel like I have big shoes to fill. We have great help here, we have a great community. I really enjoy serving the community and I really want to meet everyone's expectations or exceed expectations. I try to set goals for myself.
"My dad has taught me a lot and I feel like he has really built a strong foundation here. He's taught me everything I know. We're an old fashioned bakery, we do everything from scratch -- it's a lot of hard work. ... But it is rewarding."
Abbey Agan came back to the family business following her graduation from the University of Georgia with a degree in sports marketing. While opportunities abounded professionally, Agan returned full time to the bakery about four years ago.
"I worked here more [after college] and just really enjoyed it and really had a passion for it and serving the community. It's fun to me. It's something I really enjoy and I want to carry on the tradition that my dad has built this foundation on. His hard work and his dedication to his community and his family is amazing. I really look up to him," Abbey Agan said. "I really just want to serve our community and do the best that I can."
With aspirations of growth and innovation Abbey Agan plans on sticking true to the recipes and traditions that have served Agan's for the last half century. One improvement undertaken recently by the father-daughter team was an energy audit and improvements leading to increased energy efficiency. Taking advantage of the Green Communities Fund, Agan's Bakery got a new, more efficient roof and HVAC system.
Upcoming additions of interest to customers is the resurgence of Agan's fried donuts and breakfast pastries. Due to her father's illness, Abbey Agan has been unable to bring back some of the bakery's trademark items.
"When my dad got sick, we stopped frying donuts and we're about to bring that back in January," Abbey Agan said. "We're going to bring back our donuts from scratch, bring back our apple fritters, our fried pies and our whole new breakfast line from scratch. We're really excited about getting our morning business back going."
Donuts and other pastries will be added to the menu after the first of the year but for now, holidays are the most pressing matter. For Thanksgiving, dinner rolls, carrot cake and pies top the list while fruit cakes dominate the orders for Christmas. Last week alone, Abbey Agan picked up 100 pounds of carrots for holiday carrot cakes -- and in a single Christmas season, the bakery has produced as much as 1,500 pounds of fruit cake. On hand at any given time for holiday orders, on top of daily needs, is approximately 1,250 pounds of flour and 1,750 pounds of sugar.
"It's a tradition for people in Bartow County to get all their special occasion treats from Agan's," said Liz Hood, Cartersville Downtown Development Authority executive director. "In my family, it's really special during the holidays because we always get their fresh coconut cake and for out-of-town guests I always get their fruit cake.
"Now that I have grandchildren, it's so much fun watching them go between the counters trying to make up their mind about what they want. So it really is a store that is great for all generations."
Abbey Agan and younger sister Mandy Agan find enjoyment and fulfillment from being a regular part of others' holiday celebrations but the holidays make for a lot of long hours and hard work.
"Holidays in our family have never been normal. We pretty much grew up in [the bakery]," Abbey Agan said. "As long as I can remember, the holidays have just been different because we're open the day before Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving. We're open Christmas Eve, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m."
Working to maintain business through tough economic times, Agan's bakery has succeeded due only to community support, said Agan. Staying connected to community events, Abbey Agan is a member of the DDA board of directors helping to revitalize the downtown area.
"Abbey was able to come back to the bakery and she's got such good marketing sense, she will really be the new generation coming in," Hood said. "She's serving as our outreach chair and really brings a breath of fresh air to the board and she has that love of downtown because she grew up in the bakery. ... It's just a natural fit to have her on the board."
Agan's Bakery is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.agansbakery.com or call 770-382-8882.
More info box? located near the Green Communities Fund section of the story?
Businesses within the downtown Cartersville district and any municipality in Bartow County may be eligible for a low-interest loan through the Green Communities Fund. For more information, contact Cartersville Downtown Development Executive Director Liz Hood for downtown businesses -- 770-607-3480 -- or Melinda Lemmon with the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development for businesses in other Bartow cities -- 770-382-1466. There is still a total of $108,000 left in the fund designated for Bartow County.