Two years ago Elana Turchon was volunteering at a birthday party in her daughter’s class at Strawberry Point School and was surprised when about a quarter of the kids couldn’t eat the cupcakes being served.
“It broke my heart,” Turchon said. “I said, everyone should be able to enjoy a treat.”
And her idea to open an all-natural candy shop was born.
"It was a rainy day, but we got a lot of kids," she said. Catering to people with food allergies and special diets, she describes her store as a “one stop shop for high quality, yummy treats at a fair price.” Candy options include organic, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, non-dairy, sugar free and kosher.
“I wanted to create someplace where everyone could find something,” she said.
So far, business has been going well. Her stocking stuffers flew off the shelf around Christmas, and now she’s gearing up for Valentine’s Day. Turchon plans to go all out for the holiday, and will then start a remodeling project that involves moving the counter, opening up the space, and adding quite a few “interactive” elements that she was hesitant to elaborate on.
She’ll be holding a grand opening in the spring, hopefully around March.
SweetE Organic is stocked with alternatives to old favorites like M&M’s and Reese's Pieces. She also offers more unique items such as NewTree chocolate, including their Superfruit Dark Chocolate Bar packed with antioxidant-rich berries and pomegranate seeds, and gummy candy that uses all natural coloring such as beets.
In addition to her storefront, Turchon also works individually with customers to organize candy buffets for events like weddings or birthdays, and offers a wine pairing service. One of her favorites is salted dark chocolate with port.
“I have no problem taste testing at home,” she said. “I’m a foodie and I’m a chocoholic. It’s a passion I guess.”
She also tries to be socially and environmentally conscious. Almost all of her chocolate is fair trade, she carries products like Endangered Species Chocolate where 10 percent of the profits will benefit species and habitat conservation efforts, and Wild Republic toothbrushes and toothpaste, which supports the National Wildlife Federation.
“You have to balance the sugar,” she said.
Many of Turchon’s vendors are also locally based, including NewTree out of San Anselmo, Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates in Petaluma, and Theo in Seattle. She also carries candy from the old tenants Chocolatier Blue, which relocated for business reasons, Turchon said.
It’s serendipitous that she wound up taking over what was previously a candy shop. A Strawberry parent and resident, Turchon said she held out for the right lease in Strawberry Village because she wanted to be supportive of that community.
“It really worked out beautifully,” she said.
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