If you want to talk about an idyllic marriage of a business and its location, look no further than Hey Sugar Candy Store, which opened December 1 in a century-old home in charming Roanoke.
Located across the street from Roanoke City Hall, Hey Sugar makes an ideal addition to this quaint-yet-hip neighborhood populated by restaurants such as Babe's Chicken and Tacos and Avocados. In addition to an extensive selection of candy, Hey Sugar has ice cream, sodas and chocolate made by well-known chocolatier Stephen Smith.
"We opened December 1, and it's been crazy ever since," says manager Sherrie Chamblee. "We have your regular bulk candy, plus nostalgia candy, plus a bunch of funky things like suckers with scorpions inside, and tons of bacon stuff. And we have great ice cream. It's from Beth Marie's in Denton."
In addition to an extensive selection of candy, Hey Sugar has ice cream from Beth Marie's, sodas, and chocolate made by well-known chocolatier Stephen Smith.
Owners Kristin Brittan and her sister Staci Belew grew up around candy. Their father was a candy distributor, and the girls would attend candy conventions when they were young. The candy thing reemerged after Brittan was married with four kids. Three liked going to horse shows, but her youngest son did not. Brittan set him up with an Airstream trailer to sell candy at the riding events, and he made a killing.
"He was making so much money off that little trailer that we said, 'We're going to open a store,'" Brittan says.
As for the participation of Steve Smith, the store started out with some basic chocolates, but the sisters wanted to find someone local. Smith already had his Nib Chocolates business, but they were able to lure him in with the use of their kitchen facility.
"We agreed that I would make the chocolate for their case if they let me use the kitchen," Smith says. "So now that's where my kitchen is. They have a big window so that people can watch me make stuff."
Smith's chocolates can still be found at Scardello Cheese and Bolsa Mercado (where he'll be doing his annual chocolate tour on February 10). But he says that, for individual chocolates like caramels, which have a shorter shelf life, Hey Sugar is probably the best place to get it retail.
As befits a candy store, there's an entertainment component, with three TVs airing films like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and kiddie rides on the front porch.
Hey Sugar's location is rich with Roanoke history, Brittan says. "We're only the second owner since 1880. It's been in the same family all that time. It was the first mayor of Roanoke's house. The remodel took about a year and was extensive. It's pretty much brand new."
And she hasn't quite finished: They plan to install tree houses and a vintage Airstream, not unlike the one once manned by her son, as a kind of party room in the backyard.
"I live in Westlake, and we'd come over to have dinner, and it always seemed like there was nothing to do afterward," she says. "I think that's part of why this became so popular so quickly. It's somewhere to go."