It's been about 10 years since she's lived in Grand Rapids, but Sissy's Sweet Shoppe owner Heather Huttema finally feels at home, again.
After going to college in New York City and working in Los Angeles for the past few years, Huttema says the decision to open Sissy's Sweet Shoppe was all about timing.
"Coming back to Grand Rapids every year to visit family, it was always such a treat for me to see how downtown was developing more and more with each visit," she says, adding that she started to think about opening a store a few years back when she was living in Los Angeles, but the timing wasn't right until earlier this summer, when she finally made the leap and opened Sissy's at 38 Commerce Avenue.
With a tidy 650 square feet of store space, the vaulted ceilings work in favor of the bright, white walls and dark wood shelving to create the kind of nostalgia that Huttema loves and that Sissy's represents.
"I mainly specialize in hard-to-find retro and nostalgic candies," she says. "I love hearing people come in and reminisce about the memories these things bring back for them."
Sissy's Sweet Shoppe also carries mainstream candy, a selection of bulk candy, novelty ice creams, old-fashioned soda pops, and popcorn from the Grand Rapids Popcorn Company. Huttema can special-order candy in specific colors for weddings or other events and parties, and does gift baskets as well.
She says she'll always try to find and order any other uncommon or retro favorites for customers, too.
"I also love trying to track down people's favorites," she says. "If it's still made, I will try to get it for them."
She says she chose the storefront at 38 Commerce Avenue after observing the steady foot traffic of young professionals on the street throughout the day and bar-goers at night. Kicking off Sissy's during ArtPrize season has brought her a lot of initial business and she hopes to see that interest continue to swell in her hometown.
"I have just had such a great experience with this business so far in Grand Rapids," she says. "I am looking forward to watching it grow and potentially starting other ventures here, as well. I am also so proud to be able to call this place home again after 10 years. Its been amazing living in the area and seeing how much growth and success the city has had in such a short period of time."
Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Images courtesy of Sissy's Sweet Shoppe