Candies the colors of the rainbow from more than 20 countries line the shelves of Diana Milton’s candy shop. A neon sign encourages customers to “treat yo’ self.”
“I want it to be a place when you walk in, it’s just a happy, fun place,” she said.
Milton’s sweet little shop in the Park View Plaza, across from Richland’s Howard Amon Park, celebrated its one-year anniversary there in early December.
How Sweet It Is started out as an online store during the pandemic, and it’s grown its offerings, including selling gift baskets, specialty, import and bulk candy, and pop culture gift items.
Milton has been all business finding other ways to expand, including community events and finding ways to give back. But her first priority was finding key candy sources.
Tracking down imported candy was trial and error when Milton first started, but she attended a candy expo in Chicago this past year with more than 800 vendors.
“It was a fun treasure hunt because I wasn’t an expert when I started,” she said. “It was tough for a while, so I wondered why I even started. I know what I’m doing now.”
Today she boasts a list of vendors and can help customers source hard-to-find candy if she doesn’t carry it.
Milton said she’s always dreamed of opening a candy shop, but the extra time she had in 2020 helped push her dream along. She was a physical therapist assistant and still keeps up her license, but now works full time at How Sweet It Is. The idea for her store came from her personal struggles of finding imported candy.
“When I bought my initial batch of inventory, I was like well I like this stuff,” Milton said. “If no one else does, then I’ll just have a lot of it. Thankfully it took off.”
Her online store opened in August 2020. A year later, she began attending markets and pop-up events.
Her goal was always to have a storefront, but it took some time to find the perfect space. She was at Kennewick Public Market for about six months. Two other spaces fell through before finding the building at 710 George Washington Way, Unit E, moving in after Northwest Paddleboarding moved out. It fit the size she was looking for and her budget.
“I feel like luck was really on my side,” Milton said. “For a while I thought that I just wasn’t meant to be in a storefront.”
Milton said one of her goals has been to create one fun event a month for the community to enjoy. How Sweet It Is hosted a Star Wars themed get-together on May 4, a Barbie bash, and a visit from Santa.
“When I created my shop, I wanted to make gifting easier,” Milton said. “Candy has always been important to me because it typically brings up good memories.”
How Sweet It Is is currently a donation site for Toys For Tots. Giving back is something Milton says has always been important to her but she can step up even more with the reach her business provides.
“Having a business as a platform to volunteer has been amazing,” she said.
Shop hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
How Sweet It Is: 710 George Washington Way, Unit E, Richland, 509-438-6338, howsweettc.com, @howsweettc.
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