Ever taken a stroll to downtown Appleton and been hit by a wicked sugar craving? Then we’ve got good news! Crazy Sweet, the candy store with a delicious mission statement, is officially open for business.
Located kitty-corner to Houdini Plaza, this confectionery boasts old-fashion, scoop it yourself style bulk candy. You can fill up your own bag with Swedish Fish, candy buttons, Good & Plenty’s, salt water taffy, and more!
One of the biggest attractions of the store is the Jelly Belly display where you can get 24 different flavors of jelly beans. Crazy Sweet is also proud to be the only store in the valley to carry gourmet chocolates from the Oshkosh-based company Oaks Candy.
But who are the masterminds behind this sweet operation? Meet co-owners and dynamic couple Mary Kelley and Dale Ver Voort. Dale is a Fox Valley native from Kimberly while Mary originated in Hornell, New York. The two met while they were living in Pennsylvania and were later engaged to be married.
“We came back to Appleton about two years ago and I am happy to be home!” Dale says.
If it feels like the candy store has sprung up overnight, you’re not far off! Dale and Mary signed the lease a mere six weeks ago and have spent every night since painting, decorating, and getting the space up to code.
But that doesn’t mean the decision was spur of the moment. Dale, a graphic designer by trade for over 30 years, has wanted to own a candy store since 2002.
“I think it’s been in the back of my mind for a long time,” he says. “The thought of being your own boss and doing what you love is appealing to everyone.”
The inspiration came to him during a conference in New York where he came across the famous Dylan’s Candy Bar, “the world’s largest confectionery emporium and lifestyle brand.”
Owning a business is nothing new for the couple. Mary, who has a background in accounting, developed a line of handmade natural body care products in 2003. Since then, she has been selling them under the name, “Heal My Sole.”
However, the final push for the candy store came when Dale took a class at the Appleton SCORE chapter, an organization that provides mentoring for aspiring business owners in the Fox Cities, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac. When the storefront on College Avenue went up for rent, Mary and Dale were ready to jump on it.
“When our space became available we knew we had to act quickly,” Dale says.
They are optimistic that the store has a bright future. Mary left her full-time job and will running the day to day operations of the business. She’ll also continue selling her Heal My Sole line and will actually be carrying her products alongside the candy.
Eventually, they want to give back to the Fox Cities with community outreach. This fall, Crazy Sweet will be partnering with the Green Bay group Heart@Work which manufactures popcorn made by adults with disabilities. Dale is also trying to get in touch with the Wisconsin Dental Association in hopes of teaching kids it’s okay to enjoy candy as long as you still take care of your chompers.
“We want to be a good community partner, not just another business,” he says.
The two also plan to add to their repertoire of sweets, eventually showing off different candy from around the world. As for the store’s target demographic, who among us wouldn’t benefit from the occasional pick me up?
“I think people have a natural desire for sweets,” Dale says.” It doesn’t matter if you’re five or eighty-five, candy makes people smile.”
If you’re crazy for sweets, crazy sweet, or just want to try something new, stop in the next time you’re hit by a massive sugar craving!
Crazy Sweet is located on 201 West College Avenue in Appleton. Visit their Facebook page here.