The biggest challenge in owning a candy store, according to Pam Barry of The Sweet Shoppe, 10920 Plantside Drive, isn’t the temptation to gobble up the inventory. It’s coming up with new and interesting treats for special occasions.
“Everyone has had bourbon balls, but we make a bourbon cherry cordial with a bourbon-cream center that’s very popular for Valentine’s Day. Of course, chocolate-dipped strawberries are, too. We also have sugar-free chocolates and caramels, so no one feels left out,” Barry said. “We’ll be busy taking orders for special items as late as the 12th. Especially for Valentine’s, people come here to get a gift they know is handmade and fresh.”
Barry began selling her handmade chocolates wholesale about 15 years ago. Today her “Kentucky Proud” products – including chocolate truffles and bourbon balls – are sold in hotel gift shops, A Taste of Kentucky, Paul’s Fruit Market and other stores. She added retail sales to the public two years ago after buying out Conway’s Confections, which sold retail supplies for making candies and cakes.
“We also sell our pre-made candies to the public. Realtors, for example, come by to assemble assortments as “˜welcome to your new home’ gifts,” she said. “And we sell supplies for making candies and cakes. Around Christmas, customers often want to buy the ingredients and molds to make treats for their friends using old family recipes.”
Bakers and candy makers find The Sweet Shoppe’s shelves stocked with everything from brickle bits (in flavors from espresso to toffee), tubs of frosting made of buttercream or cream cheese, and cobbler fillings made by Amish families. To give homemade goodies that special sparkle, the store carries a wide range of colorful foils, boxes, ribbons and other decorations.
“We have classes for people who want to learn the secrets of making beautiful candies and cakes,” Barry said. “Television shows such as “˜Cake Boss’ and “˜Ace of Cakes’ have made people interested in creating cakes covered with fondant, which is pliable and holds its shape, like Play-Doh. Fondant has gotten a bad rap in the past because it didn’t taste very good; but Satin Ice, the brand we use, has a nice French vanilla taste. The chocolate flavor tastes like Tootsie Rolls.”
“Since this is Louisville, people start thinking of Derby right after Christmas,” she said. “We make mint julep creams, chocolate mint horseshoes and lots of other themed items. And now that we’re sharing a showroom with the Party Kits & Equestrian Gifts store next door, we have everything anybody needs for entertaining.”
At the moment, however, she looks forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day with her customers. On Saturday, she will have samples of chocolates ready for those who stop by to watch a master chef shape a 350-pound block of ice into a heart.
“Any time of year, this is a fun place to work,” she said. “If we make a mistake, it isn’t the end of the world. We can just eat it.”
The Sweet Shoppe is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, visit www.sweetshoppeonline.com or call (502) 261-0798.
Category: Business Profile