ALMOST everyday Emma Hudson is phoned by someone asking if she sells sweets.
Her shop, The Old Sweet Shop is an independent art store selling hundreds of Sheffielder-designed items from pictures to cushions, mugs to key rings, notebooks to bags – but, despite the name, not anything in the way of cola bottles, black jacks or mint humbugs.
This year is its fifth anniversary since opening on Nether Edge Road, Nether Edge, Sheffield – but those sweet enquiries show no signs of slowing.
“I should be on commission for Granelli’s the number of times I’ve recommended the place,” says the 35-year-old. “It’s been something that’s happened since day one. You’d think it’s something that will eventually start to stop but it hasn’t. And people don’t just phone. They actually come in and ask if it’s a sweet shop.”
She points to some lollies on her desk.
“Now I just offer them a lolly and say ‘No but have you heard of Granelli’s...?’”
Such is life at The Old Sweet Shop – a place where although profit is important being a part of the community is just as much so, and where life is never anything less than interesting.
Local legends Kid Acne, Pete McKee and Martin Bedford are all sold here, while spending just an hour in store is a whirlwind of people trying to get their items stocked, buyers haggling and neighbours popping in for a cuppa – all soundtracked by a stereo playing The Futureheads and The Strokes. Great fun in other words.
Emma – originally from Worksop, now living in Meersbrook – set up the store in 2006 after deciding she wanted to be self-employed.
She had the contacts, loved the little end terrace which became available to rent as she was looking for a base, and went for it.
“There’s always some kind of disaster round the corner with The Old Sweet Shop, though,” she winces, before recalling how just a fortnight before opening day the floor caved in.
“It was just completely rotten all the way through,” she says. “We had to basically rip the entire floor out and start again. It made me want to cry at the time, although now I look at this cool wooden floor we have and I think it really adds to the place.”
Other problems? Oh yes, there’s been a few.
Ceilings collapsing, a rear wall falling in, floods from upstairs and dodgy electrics have all been a burden.
“But every time something like that happens and I wonder if it’s worth the struggle of running my own business, someone will come along to help or bring in a great piece of art or someone will say how much the shop means to them, and I’ll think of course it’s worth it, I love it, I love every day – even the one’s when I’ve turned up and there’s a wall falling down.”
And that name?
The place –- decades ago – was indeed a sweet shop.
“I wanted that link with its past,” says Emma. “My sister-in-law is from Sheffield and she could remember coming in here when she was little – it seemed fitting.”