WOODLAWN — An Auburn Gresham candy store focused on building relationships with the community and its young customers plans to expand to Woodlawn by next month.
B&B Ice Cream and Candy‘s new location at 1516 E. 63rd St. will be just a block from Hyde Park Academy High School. The store sells gummy candies and chocolates by the pound, ice cream, hot meals and shakes.
Customer demand drove the decision to open a shop in Woodlawn, said owner Ellen Spencer. The location will be run by her brother, Patrick Brazley.
“A lot of customers have come [to the Auburn Gresham location] from over east,” Spencer said. “We felt like we could duplicate our model there.”
That model prioritizes community engagement, as Spencer and others with the store have organized donation drives and giveaways for residents.
In April, the store gave $100 through CashApp to five families hit hard by the pandemic. As civil unrest and looting in June shut down grocery stores in South Side neighborhoods already facing food insecurity, B&B gave away meals.
More recently, when a fire next door to the Auburn Gresham B&B displaced a family of six, the store put out a call for donations of clothes and money.
Through these efforts and more, Spencer said she’s focused on “keeping the community engaged [and] not just being a general convenience store.”
Some South Side convenience stores limit the number of young people allowed in or install bulletproof glass, which creates “an element of fear,” Spencer said.
B&B has been intentional about treating youth “like people” since the store opened at 8238 S. Racine Ave. nearly four years ago, and the same principles will apply in Woodlawn, Spencer said.
“We welcome the kids, and we know as many as we possibly can by name,” Spencer said. “A lot of them call me ‘mom’ and my husband ‘pops.'”
Opening amid the pandemic “has presented a gang of problems that we didn’t foresee,” Spencer said. She initially planned to have the space up and running by May or June, but construction and licensing setbacks delayed the grand opening.
“It’s going to be a struggle” at first, but “eventually we will” be able to thrive in Woodlawn, Spencer said.
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