Nearly every child has dreamed of taking a tour through a candy factory and eating enough candy to cause a stomach ache. Some kids wish for a chance to stroll through a land full of candy and see everything it has to offer. Others may want a golden ticket that grants them unlimited candy.

Whether it is a candy factory, a candy land, or a small candy store, most of us can think of sweet memories from our childhood. Arkansas Entrepreneur Chris Pearson lives these memories every day.

Chris owns The Candy Event, a small candy store located in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Just like Willy Wonka, from the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Chris loves making people happy with her sweet treats.

Chris Pearson
Chris Pearson owns The Candy Event in Fayetteville, AR and has been working with Communities Unlimited's Entrepreneurship Team on her business

She loves what she does so much that she does a drawing for her customers who spend a certain amount in the store. The drawing is known as “The Golden Ticket” a reference to the movie’s plot, and winners return to the store and pick out a prize.

Chris, also known as “The Candy Lady”, started her dream job after losing her corporate job, during the pandemic. Chris started her adventure with a storefront location in a shopping center in Fayetteville, but just like many businesses, The Candy Event, was not getting the foot-traffic Chris needed to keep up.

Chris does everything in the business by herself, so it was up to her to make sure she had the inventory, supplies, and time to fill the needs of her clients. It was a struggle, especially during a pandemic. Chris would place orders for ingredients and have to wait weeks to receive product. Chris was having to close her store, during busy hours, just to have enough time to bake her famous treats.

“I always wanted to open a candy store, but I went for it in the middle of a pandemic”

— Chris Pearson, Owner, The Candy Event

The location was another hurdle. Sure, she was in a big shopping center, but her store was located in the back area of an alley, so repeat customers were her main source of income, while others didn’t know her store was even back there. The location was away from other stores and her space was cramped and the rent was unaffordable.

Chris was doing everything possible to keep up with the store because she didn’t want to let her customers down.

Along with the busy schedule of baking candy for her store, Chris took on a few side hustles to keep the store open for her customers. Chris loves her customers and says that visiting with them is the best part of her job.

During a visit with one of her regulars, Chris learned about Communities Unlimited (CU) and decided to contact CU’s Entrepreneurship Team. Chris started working with Senior Management Consultant, Brian Wells and the two of them put their heads together to come up with a plan.

Candy Event
Entrepreneurs, like Chris from The Candy Event, have access to many resources for their small businesses with Communities Unlimited Entrepreneurship Team of Management Consultants

Brian worked with Chris on organizing her product in the store and worked on her financials. They focused on where the company was and where she saw it going.

Brian and Chris developed a working relationship where Brian gave Chris open and honest advice. In order to keep her store going, Chris decided that she would need to close her brick-and-mortar location and move her product to a nearby boutique where she would have a small space to display and sell her candy.

Chris made the tough decision to close her store. Moving her product to a booth at the boutique gave her the extra time to make candy and get it to her customers in a timely manner. Not only was Chris saving money on rent, but the new location brought her new customers and gave her more opportunities to sell her products.

Although the change was hard, Chris eventually realized that this was just a step to bigger success.

“I've enjoyed working with Chris, she has shown a lot of commitment and resilience improving her business. Even when things got tough, she never gave up and managed to achieve wins. Her product is also amazing, I love her turtles, toffee, and salted caramels!”

— Brian Wells, Senior Management Consultant

Brian Wells

Chris is still focused on getting the word out about her creations through social media and word-of-mouth. Her location at the boutique is getting a lot of foot traffic.  Chris continues to work with Brian on her financials and business model. Chris is also working with the Communities Unlimited Communication Team on her social media and marketing. In the end, all of her efforts behind-the-scenes working on her business allow Chris to continue doing what she loves most, bringing joy to her customer’s faces and tastebuds.

“CU is so encouraging. Brian keeps me feeling hopeful and keeps me accountable. With the assistance of Brian and Communities Unlimited Staff, I will have my own brick-and-mortar again someday” Chris explained.