BRIGHTON — Like many Americans, a corporate layoff left a bitter taste in the mouth of Brighton resident JR Reynolds.
But leaving the confines of corporate America led Reynolds to a deliciously sweet new venture.
She opened a Candy Bouquet franchise last month in the Palizzi Marketplace Shopping Center.
Before opening the store, Reynolds did her research. The Brighton resident knew she wanted to open a franchise and decided the city has its fair share of Starbucks.
“I just looked for something that was really affordable,” she said. “In a recession, people will buy alcohol and candy. They will not go out to dinner as much, but they will buy their candy. It’s a comfort thing with a bottle of beer or a bottle of wine.”
Reynolds has a small business background. After 30 years in Brighton, she moved to California and opened her own design/build company that took on landscaping and pool jobs. She also owned a plant nursery.
That business know-how is shored up with six years of corporate experience as a senior asset manager working on foreclosures for Service Link with such clients as Wells Fargo and EMC Chase.
She spent the last six years in California with this job before getting laid off with around 35 of her coworkers.
“I went, ‘OK, I’m not working for corporate any more. I’m done,’” Reynolds said. “I worked six years and was their top producer, and they just said, ‘Bye.’ It was that simple.”
But the timing was pretty perfect.
“It was a blessing in disguise, and everything happens for a reason,” she said. “I had seven grandbabies in six years and my kids said, ‘Mom, I think its time for you to come home.’”
So she did.
After seeing a “For Lease” sign on a shopping center storefront sandwiched between a wine and liquor store and a take-and-bake pizza chain, Reynolds made her move.
“The space was nothing but concrete floors and white walls,” she said.
Now, warm colors and wood floors invite people in for some comforting confections. Walking inside the candy store is like walking into a Willy Wonka workshop with edible flower bouquets made out of bonbons and chocolate.
According to Reynolds, the chocolate is actually a Canadian ganache.
“It’s a glorified truffle,” Reynolds said. “It melts in the mouth.”
Reynolds’ sugar shack carries 21 kinds of ganache, including Swiss milk, strawberry, French orange, dark chocolate, cheesecake, hot & spicy, key lime and – her favorite – buttermint.
By the time she received all her permits and brought the space up to code, there was little time for advertising ahead of her Dec. 3 opening. Luckily, the holiday season embraces all things sugar-coated.
In less than a month, Reynolds built and sold more than 150 candy bouquets. By Christmas Eve, the shopping stragglers had three things on the shelf to choose from.
In addition to the sweets, Reynolds also has an inventory of jewelry by Highlands Ranch jewelers Sister Rox, as well as leather purses by Montana West.
“Christmas was pretty crazy and pretty good to me. It was really nice, and it helped a ton,” she said. “When I started I had no idea what to expect so I had over 75 bouquets made and then really kicked it into high gear for Christmas. It was just overwhelmingly wonderful that Brighton thought it was a great place to go.”
And now Reynolds is readying for a holiday even more synonymous with chocolate: Valentine’s Day.
The store boasts anything from nail files to Coke cans with candy arrangements on top to a birthday cake made out of candy bars. The prices are based off of the amount of chocolate in each piece.
Reynolds sets all the prices, which is something that Candy Bouquet lets its franchise owners do based on their location and economy.
“[The prices] should be a little more. But I don’t want to price myself out. I need people to get in here!” she said. “It’s all about customer service. You’ve got to have good customer service. I’ll make sure you walk out with what you want and not be disappointed. And I want you coming back the next time.”
Reynolds builds all the bouquets herself. Sometimes it takes three to four hours to make them, which is when her landscaping and design background come in handy.
“I’m fairly creative. I can buy any container I want,” Reynolds said. One popular one is a “Hope” mug for breast cancer awareness.
Brighton’s Candy Bouquet is the only franchise storefront in Colorado. According to Reynolds, the other franchises in the state operate out of the owners’ homes in Fraser, Fruita and Rifle. There are more than 550 franchises that extend across the world.
She doesn’t have any worries about opening a business in this economy.
“The Milky Way bar was born in 1932, and the Milky Way bar is still going,” she said. “Plus, this is gourmet candy. I have things people need and at prices they can afford.”
The candy store even delivers. Reynolds said in-town deliveries are free, out of town deliveries cost $12 and they offer to ship as well.
“This is a little farm town, and it needs a pick-me-up,” Reynolds said. “I think I have a little bit of everything at a price everybody can do.”
The Candy Bouquet
450 E. Bromley Lane, No. 130
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday – Saturday
11 to 4 p.m., Sunday
Contact Emily Dougherty at 303-659-2522, ext. 223 or email@example.com