Two sisters set their sights on opening a candy store. Ten months later, they were up and running strong in Glen Allen, Va.
Sarah Solomon tells the story of how she went from high-tech sales to stay-at-home mom to launching a contemporary candy store with her older sister, Chrissy.
Candy.com: So, you opened Sweet Spot in Glen Allen, Va., with your sister in November 2010 after a successful career in software. What ultimately made you jump from software sales to Candy Land?
Sarah: Before my career in software, I had worked in retail for a few small locally owned businesses. It was during that time that I developed the dream of owning my own business. I left my career in software sales 4 ½ years ago to stay home with my son. While home with my growing family, my sister and I would talk more and more about starting a business together. I just wasn’t sure exactly what it would be. It was my sister, Chrissy that always had Candy Land on the brain. It has always been her vision to create a modern version of an old-fashioned candy store. The more we talked about it, the more I wanted this place to exist. With her creative vision and my experience in retail and sales, I felt confident that we could open a successful business together.
Candy.com: How long did it take you and your sister to get your candy shop up and running after you both made the decision to go for it?
Sarah: We’ve been talking about this for as long as I can remember, but we decided to go for it in January 2010 and we opened our doors November 20, 2010. We signed our lease in August 2010, so most things happened between August and November. It was a crazy few months!
Candy.com: Your store definitely has a modern vibe, yet is stocked with nostalgic and hard-to-find candies. How did your contemporary design esthetic come to life?
Sarah: Since our store concept encourages guests to come in and hang out while they enjoy their sweets, it was important to us that the store be bright and fun. We both love design and knew from the beginning that we wanted to hire a firm to help us. The best decision we made throughout the whole start-up process was to hire the local design firm, Visible Proof. They helped with so much more than the design of the store. Our graphic designer, Ansel Olson created our amazing graphics, which are carried through the store on our bags, boxes, gift packaging, T-shirts, and even chocolates! They helped us create an identity and brand.
Visible Proof has received multiple awards this year for their work on Sweet Spot from the graphics to the overall store design. We couldn’t be happier how the store turned out.
Candy.com: When we talked at the 2011 Sweets & Snacks EXPO, you mentioned how you really work hard to find unique candies for your shop. Any new product(s) from the expo that made you weak in the knees?
Sarah: Leaf Brand’s Farts Candy. I’m still not sold on the name but I’m sold on the candy! They were delicious and I wanted more. We tried them out on our candy testers and they all agreed that they are going to give Nerds a run for their money. Now we just need to get them in the store.
Candy.com: Your upcoming “Candy Lego Building Contest” with candy Legos and Marshmallow Fluff sounds like a dream come true for Lego lovers. How do you come up with all of your clever in-store events?
Sarah: We always knew that we were building Sweet Spot to be more than just a retail candy store. It was built to create memories and experiences for people. We wanted to create a place where we wanted to take our own kids and the events are an important part of that. As for the ideas, I wish I could take credit but it is all Chrissy. She is our real life Willy Wonka. If only I had a dollar for every time I heard her say, “Wouldn’t it be fun if….”
On National Gumdrop Day, I had to talk her out of trying to get permission to drop gumdrops off the balcony several floors above our store so kids could catch them in buckets on the sidewalk below.
Candy.com: Since your grand opening, is there anything that’s really surprised you and your sister about the business?
Sarah: I’m surprised by how many people (other than Chrissy and me) are emotionally connected to the nostalgic memories that candy and sweets can trigger. It is so fun to watch someone get excited about finding a candy or soda they haven’t seen since they were a kid. It is amazing how something so small can bring back a flood of childhood memories and make you feel so warm inside. We love that we can share that with people. Just the other day, someone came in and asked if we had Bonkers. I hadn’t thought about that candy in years and it brought back a flood of memories of my childhood. They should bring those back!
Candy.com: Any plans for opening additional outposts?
Sarah: We would definitely like to expand and have been researching additional locations in Virginia.
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