Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
Try sweet treats while shopping for sweet bargains
BY CATHY JETT
Shopping at My Secret Stash in downtown Culpeper is like taking a candy-fueled trip down memory lane.
Clear glass apothecary and Ball jars and shiny tin pails contain vintage treats from Zotz to Atomic FireBalls. All are neatly labeled with the year they first appeared.
“People connect with it,” said owner Allison Haught. “They go, ‘Oh! Ah! Do you remember this?’ They always think of someone who would appreciate it. So many [of the candies] are bought for gifts—if they last that long.”
She recently opened My Secret Stash inside her other business, Found. Antiques| Vintage| Today, at 162 East Davis St. She’d always thought it would be neat to have a candy store, and it seemed a good fit.
“It’s been so well-
received,” Haught said on Tuesday afternoon as a steady stream of customers came and went. “We get everybody. We’ve had people come here specifically from eastern Maryland for the candy store. That was pretty trippy.”
Locals are lured by grapefruit gummies, the town favorite, she said, but there are plenty of other candies, both old and new, to capture shoppers’ hearts.
Pop Rocks and Bubble Gum cigars, for example, are displayed next to a bottles of Happy Goat Scotch Caramel Sauce, which she discovered at a Fancy Food Show in Washington. A small San Francisco company makes it using goats milk and 10-year-old single malt Scotch.
“One taste and I was hooked,” said Haught, who also ordered Happy Goat’s line of handmade caramels.
Neither My Secret Stash nor Found. Antiques| Vintage| Today is her first venture into retail. She used to run an art gallery and bought and sold antiques online when she lived in Redlands, Calif.
She continued the online business when she and her husband, Matthew Haught, moved to Culpeper with daughters, Lily, 10, and Delaney, 16, to be near his mother. But she missed the interaction she’d had with customers.
“I’d always liked having a shop,” Haught said. “I love the people that you meet. Also, I was seeing too many things that I couldn’t sell online due to size, and was having to pass them by.”
She opened Found. Antiques| Vintage| Today last February, and stocked it with a wide variety of things she found at auctions and estate sales. Once a month, usually on the third Sunday, she buys directly from people who bring things to the shop.
“The business has grown so fast that it’s wonderful to have people out there looking for me,” Haught said. “I may not take everything, but the more they’re out there, the more they’ll fine-tune what they’re looking for.”
She described her ever changing stock as industrial mid-century meets Tiffany sterling meets late 1800s Chinese hand-painted lamps, with some folk art thrown in for good measure.
“It’s all over the place, but it works—with a bit of equestrienne, which is good for this area,” Haught said.
The shop’s current inventory includes columns rescued from an old house in Louisa that was condemned after last year’s earthquake, a 1965 hand-colored hunt print, a folk art duck and several sterling silver polo trophies, along with assorted pieces of antique furniture and high-end vintage clothing and accessories.
“There’s something about previously owned things,” said Haught, who loves hearing the stories connected with them.
She comes by her interest naturally. Her father’s job with the U.S. Embassy took the family to Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, where she and her parents would shop at the local markets and souks.
“I learned an appreciation for every type of artifact, if it was centuries old or new,” Haught said.
One of the focal points for My Secret Stash, for example, is an ornate oak mantel originally designed to go over a radiator. She had it for sale in the shop, but it didn’t generate much interest until she painted it bright orange and turned it into an eye-catching display case for candy.
Now that My Secret Stash has launched, Haught plans to offer a mobile “candy bar,” a three-tiered shelving unit that companies and individuals can rent for parties, weddings and other special events. She also wants to add vintage sodas and packaged ice cream to the shop’s offerings, offer candy tastings and hold gingerbread house decorating afternoons on the back patio in the fall.
And she doesn’t rule out eventually opening My Secret Stash in its own shop.
“I would not hesitate to take it to that level,” Haught said, “because it’s so much fun.”
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407