By Alex Trihias, The Progress-Index
HOPEWELL — A new business will be opening up in Hopewell as a result of a renewed effort to revitalize the city's downtown area. Sweet Tooth Candy Shop, one of the four businesses awarded grant money to bring a new business to the downtown Hopewell area, will open its doors on Dec. 19.
The shop was awarded one of the top prizes in the Community Business Launch Program, which was designed to help finance the launch of new businesses downtown. The program was implemented after a $100,000 grant from the state. Sweet Tooth Candy received $20,000 of that grant.
“Richards Chocolatiers is the actual company,” said Craig Richards, owner of the candy shop. “It’s been a company in existence for several years. It’s a family-owned company. It’s generational; I learned making chocolates from my mom, she learned making them from her mom.”
Richards’ wife, Tammy, will be running the shop, which will not only offer chocolates by Richards Chocolatiers, but other Virginia chocolates, truffles, fudge and candy buffets.
Richards said that he thinks the personality of the shop will help revitalize the downtown area of Hopewell.
“I think it’s one of several business that’s going to bring personality to the downtown,” said Richards, who is also the publisher at The Progress-Index. “These are unique businesses, they’re chic boutiques, just oddities that you can’t typically get somewhere else. The closest candy store to us is probably 23 to 25 minutes away in Carytown. It’s a great shop, but it’s a heck of a travel. This gives us the ability to bring something special downtown.”
Richards, as well as some other owners of the businesses who received grant money through the program, have turned to the Hopewell Economic Development Association (EDA) when it came to the properties that these businesses would be taking over.
“Some of the winners did approach the EDA for additional help,” said Deb Randolph, chair of the EDA. “Others that did not want to own their own properties didn’t approach us. They just went and leased some properties from property owners, the city, or private entities.”
Randolph said that when the EDA looked at downtown development, they wanted to make sure the businesses going in were unique and viable.
“We are certainly vetting those out for the city to make sure that the investment that we, the city and/or the EDA, are putting down is something that will work for the city long term,” said Randolph. “That’s the whole point is to have these businesses be there long term and be successful.”
Sweet Tooth Candy Shop is the second business to open up out of the four businesses awarded grant money. A new seafood restaurant, The Greedy Spoon, will be the first with its soft opening on Dec. 15.