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East County Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 6 years ago

Ranch candy shop moves to Sarasota

by: Pam McTeer News Editor

SARASOTA COUNTY — Jodi Mailman has always had a sweet tooth, but she may have found a sweet spot as well.

The East County businesswoman packed up her candy store, Create Your Own, on Lakewood Ranch Main Street June 30 and reopened July 6 at a new location in Westfield Southgate mall, a few doors down from Toojay’s Original Gourmet Deli.

“I haven’t slept in two weeks — I’m so tired,” she said with a grin. “I want to go to sleep and then go run.”

But Mailman said she couldn’t be more excited.

During the first two days of business in the new location, Create Your own doubled its business compared to the same day last year. On day three, business tripled.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s summer. Can you imagine what season will be like?”

The colorful store offers everything from gummi bears and chocolate truffles to aprons and other gifts. Mailman and her staff had to get creative to fit everything in the new location, which is about half the size of the Lakewood Ranch spot at 7,500 square feet. And they succeeded — with the exception of a few pet-related items they carried previously.

“Everything else fit in,” said Mailman, a Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club resident.

Create Your Own opened on Main Street in March 2006 and had become a local family favorite over its first three years.

“We felt like our business was a great business and we were doing well, but we weren’t doing good enough to sustain ourselves long-term,” Mailman said.

At first, she’d considered opening a second store in a mall location, hoping that it would pay its own bills plus carry the Lakewood Ranch store. But as time went on, business got worse in Lakewood Ranch. And while Create Your Own stayed open until 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on Saturdays, virtually no other stores on Main Street besides Starbucks stayed open late for customers.

“It was great for us but bad for the community and bad for the street,” Mailman said of the inconsistent hours. “The bottom line is I couldn’t make a living here.”

So rather than opening two locations, Mailman decided to move to a mall, where she would get more foot traffic. She’s continuing to show her commitment to the East County community by providing free deliveries to Lakewood Ranch.

She’s also keeping her eyes on future expansions. Westfield mall officials already have approached her about opening a second location at one of their other malls.

“We want everyone to come and see us here,” Mailman said. “Hopefully, some day we’ll venture back to the Lakewood Ranch area.”

Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].

Sweet tooth?
Create Your Own is offering a free delivery service to Lakewood Ranch residents. Orders can be placed by calling the store at 373-3993 and will be delivered within 24 hours.

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