4th St. Sweets

STEPHANIE FLEMING stands in front of the pick-a-mix wall at 4th St. Sweets, the candy shop she opened with her husband, Brian, in downtown Norfolk. With a gelato place, a barber shop and a beauty salon as neighbors, Fleming said North Fourth Street has become the place to be for self-care and “the sweetest street in Norfolk.”

Stephanie Fleming owns and operates 4th St. Sweets with her husband, Brian. The new business is located at 103 N. Fourth St., Norfolk. Here's a Q&A with Fleming.

Fleming was born in Iowa and moved to Colorado at a young age. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and later worked as a technical writer. She also was a stay-at-home mother to her three sons. About 12 years ago, the family moved to Castle Rock, Colorado, where she began working for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and learned “everything and everything and everything.”

Recently, the couple decided to move from Colorado and closer to Wayne, where Brian grew up.

“It was getting expensive and trafficky and crowded, and we were ready to slow down and come back here,” Stephanie said.

After six months of looking for a home, they opted to settle in Norfolk with the intent to open a candy shop in the growing downtown area.

Business overview: 4th St. Sweets offers a variety of retro candies, as well as fresh-made fudge and such confections as marshmallows on sticks, s’mores, dipped jalapenos, dipped strawberries and more. Stephanie said customers are welcomed to make special requests for products, as well.

“The way I imagine it is it’s what the community asks me for. I had somebody ask me for frozen bananas, so I’m going to try that. I had somebody ask me for the little Neapolitan coconuts, so I ordered some,” she said. “If there’s a retro candy that brings you back and you want me to find it, I’ll try. We’re going to grow and evolve into what people ask for.”

Hours of operation: 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday; closed on Sunday and Monday.

When did you open? The business had a soft opening last Thursday that Stephanie said exceeded any of their expectations, breezing through 25 pounds of white confection and 50 pounds of chocolate seed, which is used in her tempering machine. Stephanie said there were customers lined up outside of the door their first three days in business, and they had to refill their fudge case numerous times.

“We are so humbled and grateful for the turnout that came the last three days to our shop,” she said. “The response has just been out of this world.”

Why did you want to open a candy shop? “I love candy, and I love kids and seniors, and I thought this town needed something fun and different,” Stephanie said. “We came to town for a funeral and realized this downtown was growing so fast and that we wanted to be part of it.”

How did working at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory help prepare you for opening your own candy store? “I worked in an outlet mall in a town of about 70,000 people. Our monthly sales were usually about $60,000 a month. I would work by myself during the week. ... It was just kind of natural to figure out how to do it myself. I learned a lot. Because they were a corporate chain, they had a structure in place. I’m kind of applying some of it and not others.”

How did you end up in your location? After meeting with Realtor Russ Wilcox and telling him the plan to open a downtown candy shop, they looked at a couple of locations before they found the spot on Fourth Street. The colors painted on the walls were what Stephanie said she had envisioned all along.

“I felt like it was totally meant for us,” she said.

Stephanie added that she appreciates the work done by Scranton Flooring, Johnson Electric and others to help get the location ready for opening day.

What are your plans for the near future? Stephanie said phase two of the business is to accept orders from customers. She especially had in mind things like special order strawberries for occasions like Valentine’s Day. She’s also considering partnering with a chocolate distributor to do private label sales of items like truffles and buttercreams.

“I’m really all about quality,” she said. “I don’t want to just sling a bunch of junk. ... I want it to be a special thing.”

If you have a new storefront business in Northeast or North Central Nebraska you would like to have featured in the Norfolk Daily News, please contact Daily News Business Editor Kathryn Harris by email at kharris@norfolkdailynews.com or by phone at 402-644-2042.