How Sweet (Vintage) it is

3 local businesses combine to form a sweet downtown business partnership

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What started as a temporary venture is causing participants to rethink the original plan.

Sweet Vintage, 126 W. Court, on the south side of the Paris Square, is a store front featuring three local businesses – The Cherry Tree, Circle H Honey and We Lik It Farmstand ice cream.

“We were looking for someplace to open a seasonal shop from the Honeybee Festival through Christmas in Paris,” said Hilary Walker.

She is one of the principals along with brother and sister-in-law Jacob and Betsy Higgenbotham of Circle H Honey and Becky Rich from We Lik It.

“That was our original plan to have a seasonal shop, but we have had a good response,” said Walker. “We may have to reassess that decision.”

She said the store location has proven beneficial for the Higginbothams as a place to sell honey without having to coordinate meeting customers at their home or other locations. It also gives Rich the opportunity to increase the duration of her ice cream sales after her rural Paris farmstand closes for the season.

“She’s got a lot of great winter ice cream flavors like peppermint, egg nog and hot chocolate float that she can’t do now,” said Walker.

Rich originally wanted a place to sell her fresh-churned ice cream in hand-packed quart containers but the demand for buying it in scoop-size servings required that option, too.

Walker brings the eclectic inventory of her Cherry Tree business to the space.

The Paris native deals in vintage, antique, collectible and unique items. Included as part the inventory is hard to find, old soft drink flavors, scented candles, gently used clothing, advertising signs, pieces Walker finds elsewhere and buys to resell and she is always on the watch for something different to keep the inventory fresh and the retail space looking constantly updated.

“It’s just a lot of gifts and fun things,” Walker said discussing the Cherry Tree’s items.

There is an advantage for the businesses working together in one space.

“We all have our own little following,” she said.

Sweet Vintage, the name is a combination of the vintage items supplied by Walker and the sweetness of the ice cream and honey, came about quickly once the decision was made and the location secured.

“We opened in 12 days after we got the keys,” said Walker.

What has surprised Walker is the amount of foot traffic that comes into the store. She said that may continue once the new coffee shop opens and with nearby Lot 50 Brewing people are rediscovering businesses on Court Street.

“I’m excited about this side of the square,” she said.

It is not certain Sweet Vintage will remain open after Christmas in Paris. Walker said the Circle H Honey supply is well depleted by that time, and the dead of winter may not be conducive to ice cream sales. Her Cherry Tree business tends to slack off in winter at which time she attends outside shows to market her inventory, she added.

A lot depends on how much the public responds between now and Christmas in Paris. Walker said going to a full-time operation is a serious commitment because it will require redoing plumbing and other features of the building to comply with health codes and other regulations.

Sweet Vintage is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, and the goal is to provide a pleasant experience for customers.

One way of doing that is allowing people to make their own ice cream floats by selecting one of the vintage soft drink flavors and pairing it with a choice of ice cream.

“We’ve had some unusual combinations,” Walker said.