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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
Web site:
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:

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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