A candy store straight out of the past

CorrespondentDecember 11, 2013 

— Stepping into The Candy Store in downtown Wendell is like stepping back in time. The handmade gifts, vintage toys, and the bushel baskets of “penny candy” wrapped in wax paper are reminiscent of a slower time, where people communed at the local general store to fellowship with friends and neighbors. And that is exactly the feel store volunteers want to recreate.

“People who drop by, and bring their kids or grandkids, all say they enjoy the old-fashioned look and atmosphere of the store. They said it reminds them of growing up. They begin to reminisce, telling stories of how downtown Wendell looked growing up, remembering some of the stores they loved that are no longer around,” said Ginna Gray, town commissioner and liaison to the Wendell Chamber.

The Candy Store, in its third year, was the idea of chamber members as a way to provide a service for its town, in addition to raising money for the chamber. “Everything we sell is donated,” explained Regina Harmon, who oversees the project. “Everything associated with the store involves volunteers and donations.” Since it was started, it has also been a huge success, said Harmon. “Last year, we raised about $9,000, and that is impressive thinking that it was collected in 40 days.”

The store, located this year at 28 Main Street next to the Edward Jones office, was donated by building owner George Knuckley, said Harmon. “We have candy, but we also have great gifts. We have perfect gifts for teachers. We have toys donated by Vintage Dreams. We have homemade gifts. Volunteers decorate, clean and man the store. Everything is a volunteer effort. It is just cute as a button and everyone who visits say they enjoy it.”

“It is a perfect example of a community effort,” agrees Gray. There is an area for children to come in, color a picture, and then have their artwork displayed on the wall, she said, adding that this also gives their parents the opportunity to shop. Mrs. Claus will also make appearances throughout the holiday season to read stories to the children.

In addition to providing residents a place to purchase Christmas gifts and offering a way for the chamber to raise funds, it also brings business to the downtown area, Gray said. “Each year, the store has been located somewhere different and each year, someone has come in and opened a business on the site. We are hoping the same thing will happen this year.”

Harmon said she might be the one to grab the site. “My hope and dream is to keep it there and continue to run it. It won’t simply be a chamber event but a downtown business. Everyone who comes in says they wish it would stay here. It would be like having a Mast General Store in downtown.”

The Candy Store will be open through Dec. 23. The store is open from 5-9 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday, with it staying open longer on Friday and Saturday nights.

Coward: denacoward@nc.rr.com

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