Satisfying Shiner’s sweet tooth
Aug. 26, 2012 at 3:26 a.m.
Updated Aug. 24, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.
BY ALLISON MILES
From sugar-speckled gumdrops to gourmet chocolate truffles and every confection in between, if it’s a sweet treat you’re looking for, Shiner’s Licorice and Lemon Drops Old Fashioned Candy Shop has it.
The store has been satisfying the Crossroads region’s sweet tooth since 2004.
Inspiration for the edible endeavor came when owner Natalie Knesek encountered an old-time general store and candy room in North Carolina. Although in college at the time, she said she vowed to open a similar business if she got the chance.
That opportunity came in January 2004, perhaps a bit more quickly than she had expected, when she opened Licorice and Lemon Drops in Gonzales.
Even with the shop’s humble beginnings – that first building was smaller than 300 square feet, she said, and only had about 15 jars of candy – the process was nerve-racking.
“We went from Dec. 15, saying we were going to do it, to opening the doors on Jan. 23,” she said. “A six-week turnaround. After it was done it was like, ‘OK, we really did do this. Now what?’”
With time, however, the business found its stride. Both the shop and its customer base grew.
Knesek moved the business to Shiner in October 2008 and, the year after, joined up with her parents, Ralph and Kathy Stevens, who own the Sandwiches and Such cafe. Together, they offered a place for lunch and a variety of desserts.
They relocated once more, in August 2011, to their current location at 1509 N. Ave. E.
The business owner and mother of three attributed her success to several factors.
With the region’s oil and gas boom, she said more people call the Crossroads home and venture in to shop. She also chooses candy carefully, shying away from what large box stores might carry.
Customer service is another important aspect.
Knesek said she has the flexibility to adjust her inventory to what customers want to see.
“That’s how we dictate what we have,” she said. “If I add something new, it’s because someone said, ‘Oh, you don’t have this?’ or ‘Can’t you find that?’ We really try to have what people are looking for.”
The strategy appears to be working.
Knesek said 2012 has already proven strong for her shop and the sandwich shop. Even chocolate sales, which often slow during summer months, are up.
Increase or not, she said it’s the people she encounters who make running the business something special. Children who visited her first location sometimes return, all grown up and with children of their own.
It’s exciting when they talk about their memories of the shop, the parties they attended there, and the special role it played in their childhood.
“When you go into business, you don’t expect the positive feedback you get from people,” she said. “But it really means a lot. That’s what keeps you going on a day-to-day basis, for sure.”