Life is sweet at Bearden’s Gimme Sugar

Tracy Haun OwensOur Town Leaders

What’s more fun than a trip to the candy store? Owning a candy store, if Gimme Sugar proprietor Lisa Henderson is any indication. The friendly mother of three, who is also a licensed family counselor and a teacher, opened the storefront in November. She is loving her entrepreneurial adventure.

“I’ve really appreciated all the support from the community and the customers,” she says. “The best part has been meeting new people.”

Gimme Sugar is in the shops around Homberg, just west of the light at Kingston Pike and Mohican. It features candy, novelty sweets, logo merchandise, ice cream, sodas, coffee and more. Gourmet small-batch chocolate is created by Dinstuhl’s, a Tennessee chocolatier in business since 1902.

There’s a row of stools for those who want to drink coffee and use the Wi-Fi, and there’s a seating nook in the back, where the TV might be showing cartoons or someone might be playing one of the vinyl LPs stacked next to a small record player.

Henderson had long wanted to open a business, and she also wanted to involve her children: Dov, 17, Ela, 14, and Abby, 9.

“I wanted them to understand how a community works, how a business works, how resources work,” she says.

She was thinking specialty grocery store but agreed with the kids on the appeal of a candy store. She had recently moved downtown with them and looked at spots there and at spots farther west but kept coming back to Bearden.

“I like this little nook here,” Henderson says of the area of shops. When she saw it, the space was carpeted and cut up into small rooms, and it had a low-hanging tiled ceiling. Working with contractors and vendors was part of her new adventure.

To have added a bakery component to the business, she would have had to incur much more expense and labor up front. That investment is probable at some future date.

“For now, I just wanted to get the business going,” she says.

Henderson teaches psychology and development three times a week at Pellissippi State Community College and has designed the store hours around that.

She’ll be putting out merchandise for her first Valentine’s Day next week, and she’s also participating in Chocolatefest, benefiting Ronald McDonald House, on Feb. 2, at World’s Fair Exhibition Hall, 935 World’s Fair Park Drive.

She’s struck by the friendliness of the shop owners around her and the support of other women entrepreneurs who’ve reached out to her. Originally from Alabama, she also has a large extended family cheering her on.

“I’ve had friends and family drive up and surprise me,” Henderson says.

Mostly she’s enjoying the patrons who drop in in need of conversation, chocolate, coffee or all of the above.

“Everybody loves candy,” Henderson says.

Gimme Sugar is at 5204 Kingston Pike, Suite 5, and is open Tuesday-Saturday. More info here.

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