A new niche business can be inspired by any experience.
For the owners of one of Sumner’s most popular new shops, it was eating Great Aunt Sophia’s homemade soft peanut butter brittle.
Those owners, Karen Kralovic and her daughter, Kerry Langel, said that continuing the candy tradition in their own shop was a natural fit. In January, the duo opened old-fashioned candy shop-style Ciarrai Jeanne Confections — Ciarrai being an Irish version of both the names Kerry and Karen — on the corner of Kincaid and Main streets.
And, since then, it’s been going like gangbusters.
“It was a completely random idea between my mom and I: Hey, let’s open a candy store,” Langel said. “We both thought each other was joking. Then we did some research and realized that we could make it happen. And then this place opened up right on the corner.”
The shop itself carries not only Great Aunt Sophia’s homemade sweets through the Bruttles candy company she founded in Spokane years ago, but also a full range of other regionally made and international confections. Madyson Marshmallow right in Sumner, Killian Krunch from Othello in eastern Washington, Mukilteo Candy Company, Seattle Chocolates and Dilettante Chocolates are just a few of the local labels that appear on the shelves. Two weeks ago, Ciarrai Jeanne began offering ice cream, just in time for the long 4th of July holiday weekend.
“Everything in the store, except some of the penny candies and the international things, are all local,” said Langel.
Right down along Main Street is Persnickity’s Awesomeness Emporium, which relocated from Pacific in April.
The company has a unique niche for the neighborhood: repurposing furniture, as well as purveying comfortable and chic home accents of all styles.
“Our end game was to always be here,” said owner Mandi Smith. “It’s a great stretch of shops, and there’s really no better place for a place like us to be.”
Smith added that, while the previous locale had brought in a captive stream of customers, last year they realized it was time to move on. Unexpectedly, the perfect site at the perfect price opened along Sumner’s major pedestrian thoroughfare. That Persnickity’s is only two years into business and three years ahead of the five-year plan is just a bonus.
The next step of growth is an online store, although Smith expects that the street site will, at least at first, draw the bulk of the business.
“Sumner is what we were looking for all along,” she said. “And it’s nice that we’re not the only ones along the stretch. We’re part of a family.”
Also downtown, Sugar Babies children’s clothing and maternity boutique has been in business since 2006. But owner Ashley Salas recently found herself needing to expand the space from the original 1,800 square feet.
This has allowed the store to also expand its offering of local products. Some of Sugar Babies’ suppliers include Dew Drops baby headbands from Puyallup, Prissy Piggies knits from Tacoma, Tyler & Me boutique blankets and onesies from Puyallup, and services from local photographer Stacy Jacobsen. The store also has an online website up and running, which Salas said garners roughly 30 percent of her business.
Even on a lunchtime Thursday, the store was bustling with a variety of mothers, grandmothers and children.
“I could shop in here all day,” said customer Annie Craft. “Every time I come to Sumner, I have to have my Sugar Babies fix.”
Another woman-owned small business, home decor and interior design shop Madame Hatter, opened this February around the corner.
Proprietor Kim Lee, who has always had a passion for the industry, was a stay-at-home mom with three children when she had the idea to use her skills at a brick-and-mortar downtown site.
The name, she said, was inspired by the character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. And, although she lives in Bonney Lake, she said Sumner was the perfect fit for her business model.
“I just fell in love with the town, and I knew this is the place I wanted to be,” she said in the Sumner Patch blog. “When I saw my shop for lease, it looked shabby, but I just knew it was the one. It just hit me. I love all the shops around here.”
One thing Lee also believes in is shopping local. She is a testament to that herself, as one of her favorite treat spots is Cairrai Jean Confections.
“When my kids come to work with me at the end of the day, I stop by the candy shop to pay them in candy,” she said. “Sometimes I even pay myself in candy, because it is no secret that most new small business owners do not take home a paycheck. And I love that the pennies I am spending are going to a great business neighbor.”