www.carmelartsanddesign.com 111 W. Main Street, Suite 140 Carmel, IN 46032
Contact: Maureen Callahan
317.977.2206, ext. 246
Simply Sweet Shoppe and Second Story Playhouse are Nostalgic Additions to Carmel Arts & Design District
By Erin Witt
Aug. 21, 2008
Carmel, Ind. – Remember the candy store from your youth? Maybe it was just down the street in your hometown, or the must-hit stop on your annual summer vacation. In either event, it sticks in your memory because it was more than a store – it was an experience.
That’s the feeling that Old Town Carmel’s newest candy purveyors, Lynn Wiegand, Jill Zaniker and Bernie Szuhaj, hope to bring to the Arts & Design District through the Simply Sweet Shoppe at 30 N. Range Line Road.
Co-owners Wiegand and Zaniker live on the same street. But this connection grew when they realized that they also shared a secret aspiration – to open a fun and fanciful candy store.
“The idea actually originated out of my own need,” recalls Wiegand. “I had moved to Carmel from Pennsylvania, and at Easter time I asked Jill, ‘Where do you get your candy?’ I was surprised that Carmel really didn’t have what I was looking for at the time.”
Wiegand and Zaniker conceptualized a candy store that carried everything from fun, retro and affordable penny candies to high-end chocolate treats.
“I grew up in Carmel, and graduated from Carmel High School. Because of that connection, it was important to me to build a place in the Arts & Design District where people can create memories,” Zaniker shared. “When children from Carmel grow up and have kids of their own, I hope they can come back and remember the good times they had here,” she explained.
That dream became a reality in August, when Simply Sweet Shoppe opened its doors. But it’s evident to all that enter that this candy shop is much more than just a place to buy unique confections. It has become a haven for talented Carmelites to share their lesser-known talents, display their crafts and have a piece of their own little dream.
Vendors include Rhianna Allen, a music teacher at Clay Middle School who brings her “Happiness in a Bite” gourmet custom cupcakes to the table.
“We want the public to be part of what we have created, and it’s thrilling to see that happening right from the beginning,” Wiegand added.
But the candy wonderland that fills the first floor of the circa-1872 home is only part of the story. Wiegand and Zaniker also wanted to provide a place in the District that would nurture the performing arts.
“As parents, we were all concerned about the way that creative play and imagination were being sacrificed to video games and technology,” Zaniker said. “We wanted an outlet for kids to explore drama, music and art outside of school.”
To help, they sought out their third co-owner and business partner, Bernie Szuhaj, to bring his expertise to the team and lead the effort to develop the Second Story Playhouse above the candy store.
Szuhaj, a former drama major from Indiana University, had been volunteering his time in the local school districts in an attempt to infuse much-needed arts education into middle and elementary school programs.
“Performing skills are life skills,” he said. “Unfortunately, lots of districts don’t have the budget to devote much energy to them. For our part, we hope to develop this studio into something of a youth artist colony here in Carmel, and help develop that creativity that is sapped in so many kids today.”
Second Story Playhouse is currently registering students for classes that begin on Sept. 2 – sessions that run the gamut from creative writing to stage combat. And the age range catered to through Second Story’s programming is as diverse as its curriculum; International Talent Academy has been contracted to teach preschool classes like Little Mozarts, and Indyprov is stepping in to help initiate an improv troupe for teens and adults. Other offerings include day and evening art classes for adults, good manners workshops for children as young as age 3, and behind-the-scenes lighting and set design courses for kids more comfortable out of the spotlight.
Szuhaj and his partners want to provide opportunities for every interest and ability level, with programming that is developed ultimately by the participants themselves.
“We’re not promising that your kid will go to Broadway, but we will give them life skills and confidence through our programs,” Szuhaj stressed. “If you’re interested in the arts, you'll make this team, and you'll succeed.”
For a more information about Carmel Arts & Design District vendors and events, visit www.carmelartsanddesign.com or call 317.571.ARTS.
To learn more about Simply Sweet Shoppe or to register for one of Second Story Playhouse’s upcoming sessions, call 317.818.9866 or visit www.30northrangeline.com.