(Posted Oct. 27, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Firefly Sweet Shoppe is exactly that—a sweet little shop, from the eye-catching storefront window display featuring a white-painted bicycle and pumpkins to the shelves lined with pails of colorful candy. The store even includes a “chill room” with comfortable seating and free wi-fi, as well as a nook named the Dog Barkery stocked with pet treats and toys.
With jellybeans, candy bars, 36 varieties of taffy, specialty caramels and chocolate-covered treats, the new London business is by all means a sweet tooth’s dream, but a greater purpose is at work amidst the sugary snacks.
“The candy store is just a vehicle,” said Stephen Fulton, founder and CEO of Firefly Support Services.
Based in Franklin County, Firefly is a private agency that provides residential homemaker care for individuals with developmental disabilities and respite care for families with children who have behavioral challenges. The Firefly Sweet Shoppe is the agency’s newest endeavor, a site for employment and vocational day services for adults with developmental disabilities.
“The shop is a vehicle for individuals to learn how to work in the community and integrate into the community,” Fulton said.
Through referrals from the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD), Firefly is welcoming clients who will spend five to six hours a day at the shop, five days a week. Part of that time, they will work in the front of the store, stocking shelves, running the cash register, and interacting with customers. They will spend the remainder of their time participating in a variety of activities, some store related and some not.
A private activity room in the back of the store is equipped with tables, a kitchenette, and an interactive television. Clients will get to brainstorm ideas for candy gift baskets and new dog treats, as well as ways to promote the store’s goods. They also will have the freedom to pursue their own creative interests.
“If someone wants to make jewelry, for instance, we’ll go with the flow and give them some shelf space out front,” Fulton said. Field trips to area museums and attractions also are on the agenda.
“Our goal is to have 10 clients here each day through the week,” said Serena Bostic, director of operations. “We’ve already had several individuals come through for tours to see if it’s the right fit for them.”
A full-time director will be responsible for the store’s day-to-day operations and vocational activities and will work closely with MCBDD.
The shop is Firefly’s first foray into Madison County.
“We chose to locate the shop here because we know London embraces people with developmental disabilities,” Fulton said. “We hope the community comes in and says, ‘Hi.’ ”
Firefly Sweet Shoppe is located at 72 S. Main St., London. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 12-6 p.m. Sunday.