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September 26, 2013
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Meet your merchant... Dianne Hickman, owner of The Candy Store, Hot Sulphur Springs

How long have you been in business?

I started my first business in Winter Park (then Hideaway Park) in the fall of 1976

How did you get started?

Parents had a small wholesale company that sold to tourist places. I knew that many small towns had candy stores, so I decided to give it a try!

Business mission statement

To do the best I can. Providing good quality and interesting products at reasonable prices.

Success in the mission

I think so.

Challenges to the mission

Currently having too much mortgage for the candy store. Things really changed when I sold the wholesale business. Any ideas for someone wanting to rent part of my barn?

How do you cope with Grand County’s seasonal surges?

Understanding the flow and planning for slow times... Keeping chin up and prayers.

What do you think is your biggest business barrier?

Huge insurance premiums, workman’s compensation, etc. Also, always having to pay higher water, electric and tax bills because I am a business. People want more business to relieve their tax burden etc, but I have found the loudest of these people have never bought anything from me. I support the library’s need for more funding, but the amount my business property will be taxed makes it feel very unfair.

What can government here do to help?

Be kinder tax-wise to the sole proprietor.

How does your business give back to the community?

We try to offer a friendly business with local friendly prices. We offer a local discount, and though I do not have money to donate, I do give away at least 12-15 or more items for fundraisers each year.

Give examples of how you are environmentally responsible.

I recycle my cardboard, keep my heat lowered, use vinegar and salt for weed killer and anything else I can reasonably do.

How do you support other local businesses?

I use local businesses whenever possible. I try to eat out at different places etc.

How do you feel about direct competition?

Depends on the competition and the spirit in the competing.

How do you market yourself?

Word of mouth. Brochure rack.

What’s the main thing you have you learned in your years in business?

Patience and perseverance.

What do you think is the most significant economic driver in Grand County?

Tourism

If you could go back in time and start up your business venture all over again, what would you do differently?

I would sell more profit-oriented items. It’s hard to make a living selling candy, but it’s a good second income.

What do you consider to be your biggest mistake in business?

Not having an aggressive enough nature, nor a political one.

How much of a role does technology play in your business?

Unfortunately too much, and I do not have the natural ability or the money to hire someone to use the technology I need to use.

What are the technology challenges in your business?

Affordable website design and use of social media.

What’s the general key to making a customer happy?

Genuine interest and kindness.

Is their any certain trend you’ve noticed in consumer habits lately?

More disparity in the spending public, either they’re very thrifty or they’re going to spendy places

What are some tricks such as signs or window displays you’ve noticed work in attracting customers to your front door?

I’m not very tricky, and have no extra money for fancy signage

What are some ways to keep up staff morale?

Respect individuals for their special talents

What are some ways you train your staff on an ongoing basis?

Don’t have a staff right now, but always stress kindness, integrity and respect towards everyone we work with.

If you could give advice to a novice entrepreneur, what would it be?

Think twice, and then go for it heart and soul. There is always space for new ideas and vision


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Sep 30, 2013 01:46PM Published Sep 26, 2013 05:17PM Copyright 2013 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.