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Slaying with Sweetness

Proprietors Allen Small and Gayle Gould sweetly foster our community with nostalgia of our "kid in a candy shop" memories

The smell of warm vanilla and freshly baked cookies can be traced down Perry and Third Street to a quaint cottage in the heart of downtown Castle Rock. If home is where the heart is, Gayle Gould and Allen Small foster this spirit with passion for their community every day at Sugar Spoon Candies.

Locals are drawn into Sugar Spoon by the assortment of homemade chocolates, vintage sweets, and $1 a scoop ice-cream. The space overflows with delicious smells and buckets of goodies in every shade of the rainbow. Allen coined the term “subliminal comfort” to describe the indulgent sensory overload people experience when walking into the store.

“People don’t always realize exactly what’s going on. They come in here and it feels happy and good. It takes away the frustrations and weights of the world for a moment. They’re experiencing subliminal comfort, Allen says.

This atmosphere has historic roots. The building that houses Sugar Spoon housed the town postmistress in 1905, back when most of Castle Rock’s population and governing officials were localized downtown. Gayle and Allen even got their hands on the city’s bank safe from 1875- though now it holds chocolate coins rather than people’s life savings.

Gayle and Allen share an entrepreneurial attitude. Before Sugar Spoon, the couple ran a snow cone business where they gave all of their product away for free. They believe that you make more money with generosity than greed, a truth that has proved itself in their business ventures. They swear that their five kids sometimes fancy them a little insane, as the couple still hashes out business ideas for everything from homemade lasagna to creating online listings for people’s unwanted items. 

Roughly two years ago, Gayle and Allen were relaxing over a cup of joe at Lost Coffee, a shop that is located across the street of what is now Sugar Spoon. The building caught their eye, and Gayle offhandedly commented that it would make for a great candy store. After the weekend passed, Gayle asked to drive by “the candy store” again. Within the span of three days from the time the idea of Sugar Spoon was conceived, Gayle and Allen were having meetings about how to make it into a reality. 

“We started the business with a fire in our belly and no fear in our heart,” Gayle says.

The couple didn’t know what they were getting into when they opened the store. The only piece of candy ‘equipment’ they had in the beginning was a 350-piece container of Double Bubble from Sams. They were also new to making candy, but they learned quick. They still get catering requests for recipes they’ve never made before- they just roll up their sleeves, consult the internet, and get creative. 

The couple was also emotionally unprepared for how they would come to love the Castle Rock community. The city started to feel so much like their home that they made the move from Littleton to Castle Rock in late January.

Sugar Spoon has been a meeting place for Gayle and Allen, and they often feel like they’re on an episode of Cheers. People come into the store and stand for hours, spilling out their stories. 

“Some people have no outlet to talk. There are people who are going through everything under the sun, and we hear their stories,” Gayle says. “Instead of focusing on them issues,” Allen jumped in, “they can talk and have positivity injected into their life.” 

There’s the woman who comes into the shop to process her child’s depression. There’s the young and starry-eyed who come seeking business advice. And there’s the gentleman who came in every week for months to get Gayle and Allen’s professional advice on his homemade toffee. It is evident that, while Gayle and Allen treasure all of their stories, they are dumbfounded that the community has entrusted so much personal information to them.

Sugar Spoon is not big. Gayle and Allen prepare all of their homemade candy, catering orders, coffee, and waffle cones in a 4x4 foot space behind the counter. The only seating options are two outside tables that become occupied rather quickly in the summer and stay rather empty in the colder months. Allen says that doesn’t hinder people from sticking around, including a man and his daughter who brought their own chairs and sat inside for 45-minutes on a daddy-daughter date.

Sugar Spoon’s small stature doesn’t bother them in terms of workspace, but it has helped them identify a larger need. They recognize that there’s a need for more comfortable, gathering places in the Castle Rock community. The two have been inspired to create a space where people can come together, actually sit down, and get to know one another. Their dream currently takes the form of a barbecue joint called Porkies.

They envision outside seating framed by a slew of twinkling cafe lights, summer concerts, and family style wooden tables so that large groups of people can commune together.

“Can you see it? You’re sitting right here, chowing down on your half-rack of ribs and potatoes or macaroni, and we have events where people could just hang out in groves!” Allen says.

The couple was raising funds with the hope to open the restaurant in the old Bennington Mercantile, the store that served as downtown Castle Rock’s oldest operating business before it shut its doors in February. The Mercantile sold the building to another prospect, but Gayle and Allen are still just as motivated to create the dream stirring inside them.

With the enthusiasm of a kid on a sugar high, Gayle and Allen are hooked on making Castle Rock more of a home for its residents. Whether it be through Porkies or something in the future, the dreamers will continue to dream up spaces based on the values of generosity, community, and delicious food.

“Businesses genuinely caring about the people they’re serving before the money they’re getting? That’s how you change a city,” Allen says.

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