More than Treats at Sweet Destination in Reedley
Nov 27, 2017 11:00AM
By Jordan Venema
Oh So Sweet
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Kelli Avila
The last thing a teacher wants is a classroom full of students on sugar, which is probably why former Dinuba High School teacher Shelly Henderson waited until she retired to open Sweet Destination, a candy and toy shop in downtown Reedley.
The teacher-turned-candy-slinger laughs, but makes a good point: “Well, you know, a candy shop is for all ages.”
A year after retiring, Henderson opened Sweet Destination in October last year, though she and her husband had long been planning to open the shop.
“About 10 or 11 years ago we bought our very first fixtures and stored them,” explains Henderson. They purchased an M&M dispenser and jelly bean dispenser from a Reedley business, Coffee and Candy, after it had closed.
“It was a popular store,” says Henderson. “Now their legacy lives on here.”
Not only does candy appeal to all ages, but Henderson also describes the shop as “good old-fashioned family fun.”
“There isn’t a person I know that doesn’t like some form of candy,” she continues. “We have some customers in their 90s who make a special trip to come here through the transit system to get their candy and their chocolate, and most of them just love to share it with other people.
“We have one customer who’s 97, Ivan, who comes in regularly and gets his half-pound of chocolate. He entertains our customers by yodeling and reciting poetry. So really, they all feel like a kid in a candy shop.”
So in addition to appealing to all ages, the shop has a way of bringing out the kid in us all.
“Society causes kids to grow up so fast,” adds Henderson. “Whether it’s phones or the Internet, we’re distracted. This shop takes children back to a simpler time where they can just feel the wonder of candy and toys.”
That’s why many of the toys Henderson carries do not require batteries.
“We have an entire retro section of toys,” says Henderson, many of which are made in America and England, like jacks, pick-up sticks and kaleidoscopes. “It’s just a whole different world for them – hands-on play, where they use their imagination and creativity.”
And while Sweet Destination is a place where anybody can feel young, it also gives a dose of nostalgia.
“We had 10 years of acquiring some amazing vintage, collectible props. We have an old chicken coop, a 1940s superior stove, a 1950s repurposed refrigerator, which still works.” The store, says Henderson, “has a very vintage, old fashioned kind of feel.”
They’ve used the wood from an old barn and milk crates for decoration, as well.
From old movie reels to typewriters and a turn-of-the-century bean counter, many children visiting the shop ask Henderson about the items, which gives her an opportunity to talk and play with the kids.
“It’s fun to interact with the kids,” she agrees. “I play with them, I talk about the old days and simpler times, even to the high school kids.”
As for the goods, Sweet Destination offers 10 varieties of cupcakes and six different cookies, cherry empanadas, orange scones and other goodies backed by Martha Macias, the Dinuba High School home economics teacher.
“I taught with Martha for a number years and invited her to be a part of the shop,” says Henderson. “Every morning she gets up at 4:30 am and bakes. She preps in the evening, bakes in the morning and teaches in between.”
In addition to baked goods, Sweet Destination offers a bulk section with more traditional cadies like taffy, chocolate rocks, Reese’s Pieces “and anything sour,” says Henderson. “Gummy worms, gummy bears, Sour Patch Kids, and Toxic Waste. Kids will come in here and have contests to see who can make the least sour face when they eat them.”
Sweet Destination even makes its own chocolate, and is known for its signature “Smurtle,” a combination of a s’more and turtle.
Though it’s not all a sugar high at Sweet Destination.
“We do have a whole section of healthy nuts, trail mixes, granolas,” says Henderson, in addition to sugar-free candies, flax seed vegetable chips, and dried fruits.
Though its atmosphere is old fashioned, Sweet Destination only celebrated its one-year anniversary this past Halloween, and is still building new traditions. They’ve become an official adoption center for Elf on the Shelf, and Henderson says, “This December we’re going to have three Saturday evenings to let children come in their pajamas and bring pillows. We’ll turn all the lights out except Christmas lights and we’ll have a professional storyteller and musician come in and read two stories.”
Henderson is calling it One Special Night, and there will be a total of six gatherings on December 2, 9, and 16. Tickets are $5 and space is limited. For more information, call Sweet Destination or visit them on Facebook.
Sweet Destination • 1115 G Street, Reedley (559) 977-6600 • www.sweetdestination.com
Monday-Friday 9am-5:30pm, Saturday 9am-4pm
Find them on Facebook and Instagram