Glass jars filled with colorful and tasty treats decorate the walls of Amy’s Candy Bar in Lincoln Square
, which offers a unique selection of candy for the neighborhood children, as well as every adult’s inner child. The selection of treats in the shop range from German gummy bears, Dutch chocolates and tasty homemade caramels. The shop also offers other services, including pastries and catering.
Owner Amy Hanson is a graduate of the French Pastry School. As charming as the shop is, Hanson’s success story is equally so.
When the economy took a turn for the worse, many Americans who lost their jobs had to reevaluate what their next step was, and so did Hanson.
“I was in the corporate world doing internet marketing; then I was unemployed for one year and later decided to start something of my own,” she said.
The decision to open up a shop was something that Hanson had in the back of her mind six years ago while between jobs and attending the French Pastry School.
“I really wanted to give that a try, I liked it and that background was always partially the reason why I wanted to do this,” Hanson said.
What finally made Hanson decide what type of business she wanted to open was what is currently the most popular item in the store—the delicious homemade sea salt caramels.
“The recipes are inspired from the French Pastry School, but you always want to make it your own because there are a lot of graduates from that school,” Hanson said. “A few years after graduating the caramels are what I continued making; people just loved them and would always tell me to sell them and that’s what made me think that my shop should be a candy store.”
Hanson had support from friends and family. “At first people were like, ‘You’re doing what?’ because I didn’t have a job! [laughs] My close friends know that I am always one to take a risk and they were behind me once they knew I was serious about it.”
Hanson is a resident of the Lincoln Square area and has always loved the neighborhood, which made the location of the store very convenient. The design of the store is sweet and colorful: white shelves that support all types of yummy treats, a hot pink wall with the shop’s name written across, shiny wooden floors and baby blue walls.
A little over a year has passed since the shop opened and its success so far is due to the commitment and responsibility that Hanson demonstrates every day.
“I take very little time off… I work pretty much every day, 10 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m.,” Hanson said. To give a peek at what her daily schedule looks like, this particular day was a busy one.
“I have a farmers market today and I had to drive to Pilsen to get dry ice for some of the frozen treats I will serve,” Hanson said. “Then I had to run to a restaurant supplies store, then a run to Staples, and now that I am here I will have to dip some caramel apples. I’ll also have to get some signage ready for the market, then go to the market and come back to close the store.”
With enthusiasm, Hanson is determined to keep the success of her shop growing. The advice she gives to those who may be contemplating opening a small business of their own is, “If it feels right, the timing is right. Things will come together, your network will come together, your finances will come together and certain opportunities will open up. There are hurdles to get over, but when you’re ready it will happen.”