As Connie Custard opened the Blair Bakery on Saturday morning, dozens of cars filled the street.
At 4:30 a.m., it was already difficult to find a parking spot. Customers lined the sidewalk waiting to get in. Saturday mornings are typically busy at the downtown institution, but not this busy.
This was the result of an effort by community members to buy all the doughnuts and cookies on the shelves to allow Connie to spend time with her husband, Jim.
Jim, a Marine veteran, has faced numerous health issues and needs constant care. A caregiver stays with Jim while Connie runs the bakery. When news of their situation spread, a Facebook event encouraging residents to visit to support the couple was made.
Customers crowded into the small bakery, the line streaming out the door with as many as 20 people waiting at one time. Many customers overpaid for their pastries, telling Connie “no change.”
“We're behind you, Connie,” one customer told her as he handed her extra money.
Others walked into the bakery with no intention of buying doughnuts.
“I just want to donate,” they said as they put money on the counter.
Connie was moved to tears after receiving an envelope from one customer.
Lindsey Davis' husband, Dustin, is the founder of the nonprofit organization Out Beside You, which serves active and transitioning military members, their families and veterans of all generations.
The couple donated $1,000 to Jim and Connie.
“All Marines, all age, all military veterans of all generations, we're happy to help with anything,” Lindsey said. “I don't think they got the support they needed when they transitioned. Anything we can do to help. It's little, but it's just something that needs to be done.”
After only a few hours of being open for the business, the Blair Bakery's shelves were beginning to look bare. Employees in the kitchen worked quickly to restock the shelves several times. But as quickly as they refilled the shelves, they were once again empty.
Volunteers Ernie Brenneis and Ken Wulf folded boxes to keep up with the demand.
“It's overwhelming,” Wulf said.
As the line dwindled, Connie and her employees finally had a moment to catch their breath. It was just after 10 a.m.
“It's absolutely amazing,” said Connie, who was initially unaware of the push to clear the shelves.
Connie said she was grateful for the support.
“This is a good community. I love Blair. I've been here all my life and it's one of the best,” she said. “It doesn't matter, when somebody needs it, they're out to help.”
A GoFundMe online fundraising page has also been established to help the couple. As of Monday, more than $6,000 had been collected.