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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Direct Connection Candy Store

Click on any pic to enlarge

Direct Connection
Candy Store.
245 Irwin. Muskegon

I have a sweet tooth, actually to be honest a sweet set of false teeth, but you get the drift. Lol

I had seen some stores making up a small strip of stores on Irwin on the corner of Terrace; between Hoyt and Terrace on Irwin. I grew up 50 years ago right around the corner on Hoyt St. There used to be a lot of small business around the neighborhood. I thought it had all dried up. What caught my interest was the word Candy. The store fronts are nicely done but don’t stand out at all. I never really paid them any attention. But back to my sweet tooth.

I had some time so I decided to stop in and see what they sold at the candy store. Although they are in the 5th Precinct they are within three literal stone throws from where I live now, and as I’ve said right around the corner from where I grew up.

As happens more often than one thinks when prowling the Precinct, I walked in on a story. Not a front page story but definitely an American one. This is a story of a family coming to live in Muskegon and trying to live their life. They also had their vision of the American Dream. Part of their lives, part of their dream was to own their own business.

Sue and Steve Counselor started out by trying the internet ad work at home game which didn’t work; but they were learning. They then started by printing their Tee shirts on a press they bought and also making jewelry. Steve continued to work and Sue also cleaned houses to keep their dream alive. Through their journey they came to understand the idea that failure was the best teacher and while they were trying to find a niche, they kept working and trying different things.

Finally they moved into their current location at 245 Irwin on the corner of Terrace. That was 5 years ago; and they have had a constant battle staying afloat.

Sue told me how she learned about the candy business and its need when she simply put a jar of candy at her check out and it was soon empty. Well keep trying different things till one works seems to be their motto. Well that one did work and they adapted only as a self funded small business can.

This business is unique in that it doesn’t fear or shun the neighborhood kids; there is no sign on the door saying “only two students at a time”. As I walked around and loitered in the store, kids would come in from school in groups and pick through the candy. What I saw however was a certain respect with which they treated the store and Sue.

At the checkout as I watched the interplay I realized that Sue knew most of these kids. She called them by name, knew what they usually bought. One girl was short 25 cents and Sue reached into her own pocket and gave her a quarter. Then she said, “I’m putting my garbage out tonight and I want it emptied by tomorrow. The girls said she would.

I kept loitering and saw other things that reinforced that idea of a personal connection between the owner and the customers. Meijer’s eat your heart out.

How did this happen? This was not an instant success story. This was a stubborn belief in themselves and a willingness to put their all into their dream and keep at it through the down turns and keep trying. The stories of how her 18 year old daughter was dragged into the back room by a man with a long knife and almost raped and another story of how a bullet went through the front door as Sue was standing there; coupled with their determination to stay where they were, helped explain the respect the kids were showing her in the store as I watched.

Sue told me that after the near rape, the neighborhood stood up and backed them. Just to top it off, as I was walking out I saw two pair of feet and tennis shoes in the snow on the sidewalk partially blocking my way. I was brushed aside by Sue who went out and picked up the two teens who were fighting and telling them she didn’t allow that kind of thing around here. She then made – made them shake hands and they left. Did I say Sue is I’m guessing not over 5’5” and not much over 100 lbs.

From the pics you can see the store is being run on a shoestring and what it lacks in high tech sterile shelving and glitzy displays it makes up for in charm. The Counselors are still trying new things. The current effort is to get a “real” food business going. Bread and a few canned goods along with a homestyle fridge with frozen foods; also some dairy products are starting to grace their shelves.

They also have some greeting cards and sell school supplies for kids. Some other things here and there point to other avenues they are trying.

As to the charm, well the walls are filled with antiques, Sue said that customers brought some of them in. Will this store make it? I don’t know, but it won’t be for lack of trying. This is a poster child for free Markets; for the Freedom Americans have to pursue their own American Dream in whatever way they so desire.

I asked Sue if there was one thing she would like to say to my readers, what would it be? She said to support your local businesses. I totally agree. The money spent here stays here. On top of all that, the calming effect they have had on the neighborhood is noticeable and it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime, no government grants here, just a lot of grit.

So if you’re in the neighborhood driving down Peck St. hang a right on Irwin and just past Hoyt St. on the right look for the Direct Connection's New Awning and the word Candy Store at 245 Irwin. Tell her I sent you. Pretend you’re a kid again and get some penny candy. The buyer need not beware here.

Website just put up.

Another link,

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative

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