When Tommy and Christina Thompson had an insurance agency in Shelbyville, people came to them because they needed to buy policies, and they often looked grumpy while doing so.
Last year, the couple changed careers and started the only Fuzziwigâ€™s Candy Factory franchise between Nashville and Indianapolis.
Now, people stop in for a sweet treat or just to see whatâ€™s new â€” and they canâ€™t help smiling.
The store, located at 13206 U.S. Highway 42, is one of approximately five dozen franchises around the country; almost all are family-owned.
The entire Thompson family â€” including children Helena, Hayden, Holden and Hannah â€” went to Colorado, the companyâ€™s home base, last June for training.
Their store opened July 15.
â€œOur kids were growing, and we wanted a business they could participate in,â€ Tommy said. â€œBesides, weâ€™d been working so far away from our home in Goshen. This is our community; we wanted a centrally located place where our neighbors could come and have fun.â€
Unlike most Fuzziwigâ€™s stores, this one has six tables for customers who want to use free WiFi, do homework, or watch Disney movies. A party room, with seating for 24, features several arcade games.
â€œWeâ€™re about three times as large as the usual Fuzziwigâ€™s,â€ said Christina, who cooks most of the handmake treats.
â€œOur goal is to be well-rounded. Tommy and I have different tastes: I love high-quality chocolate; heâ€™ll eat anything that has sugar in it â€” he loves Jelly Bellys and sour candies. Thatâ€™s why we have something for everyone.â€
Christinaâ€™s creations, which are about 15 percent of the inventory, include fudge in flavors such as French Vanilla Pecan and Dark Chocolate Walnut.
A new favorite, the Elvis cookie, is a â€œgrahamwichâ€ that stars gooey chocolate, peanut butter and banana, coated with Belgian chocolate.
Twinkies, potato chips, nuts, strawberries and Oreos â€” in her kitchen, theyâ€™re all decorated with edible extras.
The Thompsons understand, however, that not everyone dotes on sugar. Thatâ€™s why there are plenty of sugar-free items, including various chocolates and Jelly Belly beans.
In addition to lower-carb confections, adults enjoy John Conti coffees and teas, and nostalgic sodas such as Moxie and Ski. The 18 colors of M&Ms are popular for coordinating with weddings and showers and the vast Jelly Belly assortment includes cocktail concoctions such as Mojito and Pomegranate Cosmo.
Since children are the heart of any candy store, Fuzziwigâ€™s has just about everything they crave â€” and if itâ€™s outrageous or sounds gross, so much the better.
Three-foot-long gummy snakes? Of course. Jawbreakers as big as baseballs? Naturally. How about a bottle of kiwi-pineapple Bug Barf? Itâ€™s right next to Kitty Piddle (orange-lemon) and Dog Drool (pineapple-orange).
â€œOur first anniversary is coming up, and weâ€™ve been pleasantly surprised by how well things are going,â€ Tommy said. â€œWe get a walk-in crowd around lunchtime, then kids come after school; things slow down before supper, but pick up again afterward. Our biggest challenge has been getting out the word that weâ€™re on top of the hill, not down in the shopping area near River Road.
â€œChristina is developing a following,â€ he added. â€œSheâ€™s always trying new things, and we give free samples, so people stop by and say, â€˜What are you making today?â€™â€
Fuzziwigâ€™s Candy Factory, located at 13206 U.S. Hwy. 42 in Prospect, is open Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday-Monday, noon-8 p.m. For information, visit www.fuzziwigsky.com or phone 502.384.4110.