Converting a vacant store into a candy, craft soda and ice cream shop in downtown Belleville took longer than expected, but the Crafty Sugar Co. opened at noon Wednesday.
You can find sweets from around the St. Louis region and across the country in the store at 104 E. Main St.
The owners decided to make the final push to open the store Wednesday to accommodate the crowds that will fill downtown streets for Art on the Square, which runs Friday to Sunday.
“We didn’t want to miss this one,” said co-owner Mike Thouvenot. “This is the biggest weekend in Belleville all year.”
Their “signature item” is a root beer float made with Sprecher Brewing Co. root beer from Wisconsin and Madagascar vanilla ice cream from Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery in St. Louis.
The store also offers cups, cones and ice cream sandwiches of Clementine’s ice cream, but only the “nice” flavors that don’t have alcohol in them. Blackberry buttermilk and gooey butter cake are two of the flavors in stock this week.
Thouvenot gave this description of what customers might encounter at Crafty Sugar Co.: “Hopefully stuff that you haven’t seen in a long time and have been looking for and maybe a few that you’ve never seen before.”
In a nod to Belleville’s history, the Crafty Sugar Co. has an entire section of the store along a front window dedicated to Jelly Belly Candy Co. products.
The Jelly Belly Candy Co. of Fairfield, California, traces its company roots to confectioneries operated by the Goelitz family in Belleville in the late 1800s. And the Goelitz family’s last store in Belleville was located in none other than the shop at 104 E. Main St., the new home of the Crafty Sugar Co.
Prints of historical photos of the Goelitz family are featured on the back wall of Crafty Sugar Co.
Before and after the Goelitz family store was at 104 E. Main St., Victor Lavaux operated a confectionery at the site. In 2008, the Dreamy Creamy Scoops ice cream shop opened in the building and closed after about five years.
Scott Schmelzel, the owner of Big Daddy’s 618 bar at 313 E. Main St., is a co-owner of the Crafty Sugar Co. with Thouvenot, who will be the manager of the candy store.
The two friends from high school originally had planned to open the store by March 1, but Thouvenot said they ran into various delays they didn’t expect, such as not receiving the correct delivery of some products they ordered.
And there were surprises along the way.
Although he didn’t know it at the time he ordered bags of hard candy from Claeys Candy of South Bend, Indiana, Thouvenot was pleasantly surprised to find out that Claeys Candy was his late mother Catherine Thouvenot’s favorite candy when she was a child.
After the bags of Claeys Candy arrived at the store, Thouvenot’s sister told him about their mom’s fondness for Claeys Candy.
Other featured products include more than 50 bottles and cans of craft soda, including Fitz’s Root Beer from St. Louis, Excel sodas from Breese, Hank’s of Philadelphia, Jones of Seattle and Fizzy Izzy soda from St. Genevieve, Missouri. The store also has 54 flavors of saltwater taffy that you can buy in bulk and fair-trade chocolate candies from Theo in Seattle, where Thouvenot lived for over 20 years.
The store will be open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday but will have expanded hours during downtown festivals. More information about Crafty Sugar Co. is available on its Facebook page or by calling 618-416-7689.