Business Profile: How Sweet It Is

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How Sweet It Is lives up to its name, not only by preparing mounds of scrumptious treats, but also with its promise, displayed on the cash register: “Attention all dieters, all sales are confidential!” How sweet!

This delectable candy shop can be found in Hannah Plaza, its home for the last 12 years, nestled under the block letters across the building’s exterior reading “Fudge.”

“We have some wonderful regular customers,” said Lenny Cusenza, owner. “They’re more like family and friends.”

The shop has minimal space in its current location, so the majority of the profit comes from distributing its candy to other outlets. Although it serves as a distributor to many companies in the area, it also has many clients nationwide.

“We still try to buy as many Michigan-made products as we can,” Cusenza said.

How Sweet It Is prides itself on its delicious truffles, blocks of fudge and ability to get creative and experiment with different kinds of treats. One of its most recent creative successes has been a white chocolate deviled egg.

“People can find something a little different for their kids or sweetheart here,” said Cusenza.

When the shop originally opened 16 years ago, How Sweet It Is did not make its own candy or fudge. But buying sweets soon got to be expensive, so manager Lisa Dula suggested trying to make sweets in-house. It took a lot of trial and error to get the batches right, play with recipes and modify them to create an innovative product, but it resulted in the creation of some of the shop’s most popular treats. Dula now is in charge of preparing the chocolates, while Cusenza develops the fudge and brittles.

“She does so much; I couldn’t have done it without her,” Cusenza said of Dula, who has managed the business for the past 15 years.

Dula said that, despite the obvious potential hazards of working in a candy shop, she rarely has the temptation to devour the chocolates anymore because she has tested so many of their products in the past.

“It was fun experimenting,” said Dula. “But it’s one of those things you do too many times.”

Her two favorite flavors from among the truffles that she crafts are chocolate cheesecake and chocolate mocha. Originally, the cheesecake truffle wasn’t meant to turn out the way it did.

“Some of our mistakes have become our best products,” said Dula. “We’ve also never had a bad batch of fudge.”

She noted that the store is very economical in its pricing. Truffles are $16.98 per pound, and creamy fudge is sold at three blocks for $12.

Many of its other popular products include the peanut butter buckeyes, amaretto truffles and no bake cookies. In terms of fudge, Cusenza said there’s typically a variety of around 20 different kinds, with pecan turtle, Bailey’s and maple walnut being some of the most popular.

How Sweet It Is also offers an assortment of sugar-free chocolates. Some of these include: pecan clusters, almond butter crunches and more. In addition to inventing original sweet creations, the store’s shelves are stocked with cooking supplies and flavoring oils.

“We also give away free coffee and cappuccinos to everyone who comes in,” said Cusenza.

How Sweet It Is provides free gift wrapping for its boxed truffles and assorted candies, and crafts custom moldings and gift baskets.

“We have a good niche here,” said Cusenza. “And that has been the biggest challenge — finding a niche in a small market.”


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Tags: candy shop, lenny cusenza, lisa dula, niche market, sweets

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