Elena and Casey Smillie have owned The Picket Fence for nearly 16 years and their business is only growing from there.
The Picket Fence defines itself as a speciality bakery that offers special order cakes, brownies, cookies, and cupcakes among other baked goods. They offer lunches with their special, hot lunches on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with their regular menu offering paninis, soups, sandwiches, quesadilla with cupcakes daily.
“We usually have 8-10 gourmet cupcake flavors daily,” Elena Smillie said. “We have our crumble cups which is a cold desert ranging anywhere from pecan cobbler to Oreo cheesecakes to banana puddlings and things like that; we usually have 12 different flavors available daily. So all kinds of good sweet treats.”
The Picket Fence has also recently started offering items to accommodate for customer’s dietary needs like diabetics, people with celiac disease, people that eat a keto diet and others needs like that.
“We do try to keep cookies and cheesecake and all of those items truly glutton free, sugar free and keto-friendly,” Elena said. “We do offer many of our items on our menu that are also glutton free and low carb. Our client based has just grown tremendously over the two couple months because people have realized we offer that.”
On top of being a bakery, The Picket Fence is also a full service floral gift shop that offers fresh and silk floral. They also provide tuxedo and wedding rentals as well as help with decorations for weddings and other events.
“The idea behind merging the two is that we had our Prescott location and it didn’t have a kitchen,” Elena said. “This building had the commercial kitchen and the history of baked goods and food items in here for so many years. When it became available, it was a good chance to merge both. If you do birthday parties, weddings, and other events there’s always floral, food, decorations, table clothes; everything just goes together so it’s like a one stop shop.”
The Picket Fence originally opened in Prescott eight years before they opened their Hope location seven years ago. Now, they’ve closed down their Prescott location and are only based here in Hope, which is a convenience for them.
“We stayed with this location because we’re from Spring Hill,” Elena said. “I’m a Spring Hill alumni and he’s a Curley Wolf and we live here. When this location became available it just made sense to come back and put something that’s been here with a history of 80 years. The bakery part of it was the driving force and then we added the hot foods and lunches.”
The building they’re currently in has been a bakery location for nearly 80 years, having been Joe City Bakery, Hope City Bakery, and other businesses as well. However, the Picket Fence didn’t always have baked good options.
“I’ve been a florist since I was 16,” Elena said. “My mother had a shop here in Hope and I’ve worked in Little Rock and in Michigan. I’ve always been a florist, but my husband, who’s the baker, has only been a baker for about 10 years.”
The bakery aspect of the business came about during a wedding they hosted in Maumelle about 12-14 years ago.
“We had done all the flowers and everything for the wedding,” Elena said. “We were at the reception and the cake was brought in by a premiere baker in Little Rock. I had done the topper for it and when I do that, I always place it. When I went to do that, the cake was falling apart. There was nothing we could do and the bride was just heartbroken of course. As we were leaving, Casey was just like ‘that’s it. We’re going to start doing wedding cakes.’ And I said ‘well, I can barely scramble an egg so you might need to learn how to do that.’ So he took some classes and just had the natural ability from cooking with his grandma a lot when he was growing up doing candies and cookies and cakes and things like that. That’s pretty much where it came from: a need that our business knew had to be filled.”
While Elena has been a florist all her life, the idea for the name of “The Picket Fence” also came from her childhood.
“When I was little, there was this house up on a hill and there was this white picket fence around the whole yard and I would tell my mom ‘I want that house, I want that house,'” she said. “She was a single mother of three girls and she would say ‘Elena, if you want that house and you want that picket fence you’ve got to work hard.'”
And that’s what Elena did. She worked hard and all these years later she now owns that white picket fence in the form of her and her husband’s business today.
“It covers everything,” she said. “It doesn’t just limit us to flowers, it doesn’t just limit us to a bakery, it’s just kind of personal thing for me. Our Prescott location had a picket fence all around the front of it so of course we weren’t going to change the name when we opened the Hope location. It’s just more of a sentimental thing for me and just kind of a tribute to my mom.”
Hard work is the backbone of the idea of “The Picket Fence” and it wouldn’t be what it is today without it.
“That’s why we do what we do,” Elena said. “We work very hard because we want our customers to not have to run to Texarkana, Little Rock or Hot Springs to try to find what they’re looking for. We try to offer as many affordable things that we can in one downtown location for the community.”
The Picket Fence is located at 200 E 2nd St in Hope and offers in-store shopping and pickup as well as delivery.