Sweet Talk in Carmel
Step inside Simply Sweet Shoppe in downtown Carmel and chances are you won't know where to look first.
The place is stocked from hardwood floors to ceiling with bulk bins and jars filled with brightly colored candies. Sophisticated chocolates and gift baskets catch the eye.
A seating area invites customers to enjoy their treats, plus coffee, hot chocolate and owner Jill Zaniker's very own sipping chocolate–a two-ounce pour best described as a creamy, melted truffle in a cup.
This is exactly what Zaniker, a Carmel native, envisioned when she set out to fill a retail niche.
"I really wanted people to have a place to come and relive childhood memories," she says. "And that's what the shop has become known for."
Case in point: "I had a 90-year-old woman come in recently and she was just so delighted by the place. It took her right back to when she was a little girl," Zaniker says.
Zaniker, who has spent years in retail, opened Simply Sweet Shoppe in 2008 after being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years. In addition to offering retro candies, bulk items and novelty sweets (world's largest gummy worm, anyone?), Zaniker knew she wanted to seek out quality chocolate made in Indiana.
"I carry local items whenever possible," she says. "I strongly believe in supporting other small local businesses."
Today, the shop stocks everything from gourmet marshmallows made by 240sweet in Columbus to gluten-free cookies by BeeFree Bakery in Noblesville.
A FEW OF HER FAVORITE THINGS
Simply Sweet Shoppe owner Jill Zaniker scouts for Indiana-made treats to sell at her store. Here are four of her favorites:
Uncle Henry's Candy
Carl Harvey's uncle Henry taught him how to make chocolate, and now Harvey is an Indiana Artisan–which means he's among the best at his craft in the state. He makes hand-cut turtles in Cicero, enrobing them in milk or dark chocolate for melt-in-yourmouth goodness. www.unclehenryscandies.com
BeeFree Bakery cookies
These gluten-free sugar and gingerbread cookies made by Jennifer Wiese in Noblesville satisfy snackers whether they are health-conscious or not. www.beefreegf.com
Best Chocolate in Town
Zaniker describes Best Chocolate's chocolate-covered caramels topped with sea salt as "a little bit of heaven." Elizabeth Garber, also an Indiana Artisan, makes the chocolates by hand in downtown Indianapolis. www.bestchocolateintown.com
These bite-size treats are all the rage, and baker Meghan Grilliot makes them on-site. Simply put, they're balls of frosted cake on sticks, but Grilliot decorates them to the nines.