It’s no wonder that Toni Bryant-Chance decided to call her business Suga Mama’s Confections, Inc. Inside her friendly shop at 6900 Cliffdale Road, the available treats include a variety of ice cream concoctions, flavored whipped toppings, candy, popcorn, cotton candy and a rainbow of other sweets.
But the merchandise isn’t all that’s sweet here. Suga Mama is a kind-hearted confection herself.
“I’ve always been the neighborhood candy lady,” she said. “I grew up in New York where there were bodegas with 10-cent pieces of candy, 5-cent gum. I wanted children down here to have those kinds of things.”
Long before her shop became a reality about three months ago, hers was the home where neighborhood kids came to play. She has two daughters, but her home was always bustling with many more youngsters than that.
“I would hold little contests for them, give away free gift baskets and things like that,” she said. “We would have Christmas parties and they’d bring their basketball teams to the house.”
She would go on to bolster her expertise as a confection connoisseur after she won $10,000 on the Netflix show “Nailed It!” The show challenges amateur bakers to bake show-worthy tasks such as turning out elaborately decorated cakes, gingerbread houses and cupcakes.
Bryant-Chance eventually bought a trailer and stocked it like one of those New York bodegas, filled with candy and other sweets for sale. Last fall, she realized a dream when she opened Suga Mama’s in the little shop off Cliffdale Road.
She and the “Candy Manager,” otherwise known as 17-year-old daughter Tamiko Dixon, keep things hopping Thursday through Sunday from 1-9 p.m.
They offer vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. But like the primary colors, they can take those three and make a rainbow of sweet treats by using everything from orange soda to honey buns. One of their favorites is a cake batter-flavored milkshake, but Bryant-Chance is quick to point out that they offer more than ice cream. Chocolate-dipped strawberries and grapes, for instance, are available by preorder.
“We are a sweet shop, not just ice cream,” she said. “We have fresh-popped popcorn, cotton candy, candy, sodas, snow cones.”
And her favorite part? That would be the smiles on the faces of her young customers.
"I have two daughters," she said. "But now I have a whole city of children."
Kim Hasty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.