Not many people can say they are following their dreams and doing what they love. I can say I am one of those people following my dreams. If you would have asked me even a year ago what I’d be doing for the rest of my life, I would have said, Corporate Finance. That’s all I have been doing for the past 25+ years. Don’t get me wrong I love working with numbers and my analytical brain is perfect in that world. But it’s not what I’m passionate about, it’s not what I love doing day in and day out. It took stress at my last job to remind me of my dreams and what I love. Which is candy, selling and making it (and sometimes eating it).
When I was about 12 years old, my mom took me to my aunt’s house for a candy making party. Basically, you learned the basics and seen the tools used and could buy things. My mom bought a couple things for me that night including a book (which I still have and use). That is where the candy story began. I started making simple things and my family was always happy to be the taste testers. Then we got into lollipop molds where you had to use different colors to make things look pretty. I struggled because I was a perfectionist on how to keep the colors from bleeding. Then an idea hit me, I started using a toothpick to paint the detail into the molds and thus began my creative side of the candy making.
I made candies for all the major holidays. Not just decorative lollipops, I made peanut butter cups, cherry cordials, caramels, and creams. This was a habit that was very much supported by the family. It helped that I was pretty good at it, so they enjoyed the end products. I even taught myself how to do things better and quicker so that I could do more.
While I was making candy I would zone out, this was my yoga or meditation. I kept dreaming of opening a candy store where I could make my candies and sell other candies. In my mind, it was a fantasy. I would never of thought in my wildest dreams that that fantasy would come true.
What you see when you walk into my store is similar to what I had in my head over 30 years ago. This shop is better than my head though for so many reasons. For one, it is in a historical building in an historical district of a beautiful southern town (York, SC). The historicalness of the building and town are really the backdrop of what makes this store special. I actually cannot see opening a shop like this in a non-historical area. People have asked me where are you going to put your next store. That question amazes me, but also has me thinking that it will not go into a strip mall somewhere, it will go into another historical or vacation destination town because this store and format would not work in non-historical place.
The second reason it’s better than what was in my head is the way those around me brought the store to life in ways I couldn’t imagine. From my contractor, Zac Clark of Clark Home Solutions, designing the workstation and the steps so perfectly to my friends Ashlee Bryant and Amber Palmer helping with merchandising within the shop. Add the marketing designs and web designing by Kayla Danielle and Kate Ambrose respectively, you have a store and concept that was in a 12-year old’s head come to life.
The final reason reality is better than fantasy is the customers who come in every day. The looks on their faces tell it all. From the wide eyes of kids and big grins to the adults smiling because we have candy cigarettes and bubblegum cigars. I hear stories of how they “smoked” them as a kid and it was so cool.
The candy store will be evolving consistently because I want to give people a reason to come back and new people a reason to visit the store and York. Between Amber and I we will be making all kinds of stuff to curve anyone’s sweet tooth. We will also have a cotton candy machine that will work better than the one we have so the kids (and adults) can get cotton candy every day. We have a bunch of other ideas that I know our customers will love.
I have been trying to listen to customers and friends when stocking shelves too. I am constantly bringing in new items. If I haven’t brought in something requested that only means the distributors I’m working with are out, the manufacturer no longer makes it, or I am still looking at other distributors to find it. I want to make everyone happy. I try to price things so that kids coming in can afford to buy a couple items if they only have $1.00.
Right now, my biggest sellers are the Dippin Dots and hard candy sticks. In future candy blog posts, I will write about specific candies including what is popular in the US in total compared to what is popular in the store. I will have an online store so if you cannot make it to my shop in York, SC please look at the online store. We will update it regularly with any new items that are available. Don’t forget we provide sweet treats for all parties and events. I have done hunting themed baby showers, rodeo themed graduation parties, bridal showers and birthday parties.
I am still getting used to people watching me make things in my workshop area. When I get a little more comfortable, I will do videos so those of you who cannot be here, can watch the magic as it happens and hear me (censored of course lol).
I hope, believe and pray every day that this business takes off so that I can continue to bring happiness to kids and adults everywhere. When you walk into my store, you can’t help but smile.
Come in with your sweet tooth and leave smiling!!!