If you build it, they will come. And if you fill it with swirly lollipops, pale-pink frosted light-as-air cookies, organic coffee drinks and glass jars filled to the brim with colorful candies, they’ll come in droves…even if you are located smack dab in the middle of a suburban Silicon Valley residential neighborhood. It seems as if everyone likes a cheerful candy shop, especially one that donates its profits to the local public school district. A magical place like this just opened a few weeks ago around the corner from my house in Los Altos, California. It’s called Sweet Shop, and it really is.
Stacy Savides Sullivan is the brainchild and warm personality behind Sweet Shop. She grew up in the area and used to visit the precursor to her store, a dilapidated mini-mart called Foodland, along with hundreds of other students from the local junior high school decades ago. I used to go there, too, so I understand the nostalgia behind the location. Sweet Shop is a far cry from Foodland!
Every bakery item is brought in from a local specialty purveyor. The cookies come from Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos, the muffins and croissants from Kelly’s in Santa Cruz and the not-cloyingly-sweet cupcakes are brought in from Sibby’s in San Mateo.
Stacy has stocked the place with unusual treats from England, like Curly Wurlys and Yorkies. Hers is one of the very few retail outlets in the area where you can find Dippin Dots outside of an amusement park. The frozen confection requires a special freezer that can reach temperature of -40 degrees F.
One of the highest-end items featured at Stacy’s store are bittersweet chocolate Tiles made by poco dolce. “They are tremendously popular around here,” Stacy says. “So are the Brix chocolates that come with tips on how to pair the different varieties with various wines.”
As for the kids, she’s got them covered, too. Stacy polled her two sons and their many friends about their favorite candies, and now 45 of the top vote getters are displayed in clear glass jars just waiting for the right child to take them home. So far, sour belts are the most popular, followed by gummy penguins and frogs, watermelon slices, and, of course, the insanely sour pieces of Toxic Waste that come in a little garbage can-shaped container.
Sweet Shop is doing its part to help fund cash-strapped local public schools by donating after-break-even profits to the Los Altos Unified School District. But it’s not only a socially-conscious operation, it’s doing its part to be sustainable, too. Many of the foods it sells are organic, all utensils are recycled and/or recyclable, including the spoons that are made from potato by-products. Organic milk, eggs, and butter are delivered by an actual milk man dressed in white (who knows if this is super sustainable but, hey, it adds to the overall charm!). The restroom has an ultra-modern hand dryer that’s energy efficient and solar panels will soon be installed on the roof. Even the frog statues in the peaceful garden spit out recycled water.
It’s not every day that a place this whimsical and fun opens right around the corner. My twin sons and I have already visited multiple times and I’m sure we’ll soon be on a first name basis with the friendly counter service crew. Sweet Shop is a magnet to young and old alike. It looks to me like people are still hankering for a community gathering space, even in the midst of daily Tweets, emails, iPhone calls and, yes, blogs about food! Thanks to Stacy, we now have one in Los Altos. (Sweet Shop, 994 Los Altos Avenue, Los Altos, California; www.sweetshoplosaltos.com).
(My sons, Joe and Ryan, enjoying a Summer Fruit Smoothie after school.)