15 Sep 2014
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Business Seeks Sweet Success

Didi Reed strives to make her unique candy store a fun escape during otherwise challenging times for small business owners.

Business Seeks Sweet Success Business Seeks Sweet Success Business Seeks Sweet Success Business Seeks Sweet Success Business Seeks Sweet Success Business Seeks Sweet Success Business Seeks Sweet Success

Step on the welcome mat and a light-hearted message greets the patron. It will be different for the next customer who walks through the door.

Look at the wall on the right -- the one with every rainbow color candy one can imagine -- and if you're looking for M&Ms in aqua green, silver or even black, you will find them.

Glance at the opposite wall and there's a curious list of names that make up a Hall of Fame. How does one end up there? Just eat seven gross yet imaginative Jelly Belly jelly beans -- skunk, booger, vomit, centipede, dog food, rotten egg, moldy cheese – and you've made the list and a free T-shirt. Do it again and earn a $1 gift certificate on your next visit.

"The kids really like it and now they're bringing their parents in to do it, too," the woman with the infectious smile on her face said.

Didi Reed is the owner of Sweet Street, an exclusive candy store that fits into Danville's unique main drag like a pink bunny goes with Easter.

Reed wears that wide grin and she has for almost a year now after purchasing the business last Christmas Eve.

"I want it to be a place where you can pamper yourself with a little treat and, especially with the economy the way it is, get something that makes you feel happy," Reed said. "The most important thing is how they feel when they come in. If it looks like they've had a bad day I try to do what I can to have them leave with a smile."

Sweet Street rarely leaves a sour taste in anyone's mouth.

Married and the mother of four children growing into young adults, Reed sought out to buy her first business after having spent two years managing a similar store in Lafayette.

She found just what she was looking for smack dab in the middle of Danville (301 Hartz Ave.), and has loved every minute of the past 11 months.

These are uncertain economic times and any new business involves risk, a consequence the Alamo resident realizes.

"We're paying our bills," Reed said. "If we were paying me a salary it probably wouldn't be that great. From what I've heard, for a first year, if you're meeting all your bills that's a key thing to be able to grow it over time."

If for some reason Reed doesn't achieve her goal for growth, it won't be for a lack of effort or dedication.

Reed has filled inventory to the point it's pretty hard for the person with a sweet tooth not to find what they want. Remember those politically incorrect candy cigarettes found in Halloween hauls of decades past? She's got 'em.

"If it's something I don't have and they're still making it, I'll do my best to try and find it," Reed said. "Especially if more than one person has asked for it because I want to be able to carry that hard-to-find item. I want to help people find what they haven't been able to find."

Besides selection, Reed hopes to appeal to teens. Wear a funny hat or do a little dance on “Wacky Wednesday” and it could earn a 10 percent discount.

Find a hidden mushroom in the store on Wednesdays and it's worth a discount. Come into the store on game day of your favorite local school, let out a spirited chant and you could earn a discount.

"I wanted to make it a fun place, especially for middle schoolers and families," Reed said.

She's done her best to cater to a more mature crowd, too. By extending the store's hours on Friday and Saturday from when it previously closed at 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. to take advantage of the dinner crowd wandering by looking for that sweet treat after a local meal.

"Everyone up and down the street are so nice and do things to help each other," Reed said. "I really appreciate it."

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