Carmel and Child Care and Startup and Regional News and Small Biz Startups and Retail and Small Business and Workplace Issues

Candy store aims for sweet success

May 25, 2009

STARTUP: Simply Sweet Shoppe & Second Story Playhouse

Services: confection sales, child care/ education
Address: 30 N. Rangeline Road, Carmel
Phone: 818-9866
E-mail: info@30northrangeline.com
Web site: www.30northrangeline.com
Founded: August 2008
Owners: Jill Zaniker, Bernie Szuhaj and Lynn Wiegand
Owners' backgrounds: Zaniker, 42, grew up in Carmel. She graduated from Purdue University in 1990 with a degree in retail management, then worked in management at department stores.

Szuhaj, also 42, graduated from Indiana University in 1990 with a degree in theater and drama. He spent almost two decades in marketing, development and technology training.

Wiegand, 46, grew up in Pittsburgh. She earned both a bachelor's degree in science and nursing and an MBA in hospital administration from the University of Pittsburgh, where she worked as a hospital administrator until 1999. She and her family moved to central Indiana soon after.

Why started business:
"It's reliving old memories and creating new ones," Szuhaj said. "That's what we designed and built this place around."

Zaniker remembered fondly her experiences with candy shops as a child and sought a way to bring that experience to the new generation; at the same time, as a supporter of local arts, she wanted to contribute something of her own to the community. So she struck out with like-minded friends and budding entrepreneurs Szuhaj and Wiegand and together fulfilled their vision.

Competitive advantage: A focus on old-world quality with modern services and efficiency drives both facets of the business. "We're not a conservatory or a school," Wiegand said. "We're just here to fill a perceived need."

Startup cost: $125,000

Funding source: self-funding and loans

Projected first-year revenue:
$100,000

Potential problem and contingency plan: One of their biggest concerns is that Simply Sweet might fall victim to a novelty mentality, that patrons might see the location as a nice place to visit just once or twice. But they are confident the quality of their products and the unique atmosphere will keep people coming back for more.

One-year goal:
The owners hope to be able to afford full-time employees instead of relying on part-time help.

Five-year vision: Diversification is a big priority. The partners plan to open a second location and begin offering services for baby showers, selling party favors, and adding custom candy services.
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