Sweet Memories Opens Store with a Cause

GIRARD, Ohio – Linda Barton wanted to give back to the community following an incident where Akron Children’s Hospital saved her daughter’s life at a young age.

Friday afternoon, Barton opened her vintage candy store, Sweet Memories Vintage Tees & Candy, at 1282 Trumbull Ave.

“We are the largest manufacturer for the candy and ice cream brands in Ohio,” she said. 

There was a check presentation Friday for the nearly $11,000 the company has raised for Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley in the past year, and a new Klondike and Islay’s line was also released.

“Since we started our brand in 2020, we raised $26,000 for the NICU,” Barton said.

Barton had owned the screen-printing company New Dawn Design. One day, she discovered Good Humor was from Youngstown and decided to call them and ask who was going to design their novelty T-shirt line for their 100-year celebration.

“They said they never had a T-shirt line and they don’t give out licensing agreements to small businesses,” she said.

Barton convinced the company to give her a chance, and the company gave her a one-year exclusive contract.

“After we launched at the hospital, they called and loved what I did so much and said, ‘Hey, can you do Popsicle?” she said. 

Barton said from there it took off. Soon she was also asked to do Dum Dum, Sweethearts and Necco.

“It just kept building and building,” she said.

After doing some wholesales last year, Barton said she decided she needed to open a candy shop, as well.

“My main mission was to raise money for the NICU clinic,” she said. “Those babies are fighting for their life, and those infant beds cost $40,000. I figured if my store could sell 8,000 shirts a year, it’s like my company is contributing one baby bed to that hospital.”

Some of the sweet offerings at the new store.

The building for the candy store was officially purchased in May, but Barton said she previously had been renting the space for 25 years for her design company. 

The building was purchased for $450,000, Barton said. An additional $300,000 was spent to put a new roof on it. 

“I invested a lot,” she said. “I am not going anywhere. Hell or high water, we’re going to make it work, and it is going to be great for the community.”

Barton said she still plans to sell her T-shirts at the Youngstown Flea, as well as the Canfield Fair and Italian Festival. Products will also be available online at sweetvintagetees.com.

Last year at the Italian Festival, Barton said she decided to make an Italian saint sign. After selling many of those shirts, which each raised $5 for the Italian Heritage Foundation for scholarships to Youngstown State University, she said she felt convinced to keep it as part of her apparel line. 

Now the store has a Catholic saints line where 20% of each shirt goes to the Franciscan friars of Youngstown.

An additional military line also gives 20% to soldiers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder through the Moral Injury Awareness Program.

Good Humor shirts are among the vintage items available at Sweet Memories Vintage Tees & Candy.

Abbey Hennessey, graphic designer for Sweet Memories, said she has been working with the company for three years, starting as an intern from YSU in 2020. Her internship lasted about six months until turning into a job, she said.

“The design process is a lot, but it is really fun and very creative,” Hennessey said. “Basically, how it works is we get licenses with each of the brands, and they send us everything that they have, from their old ads in the 1920s to brand new stuff that they are rolling out now.”

Hennessey said she gets to take the pieces apart and put them back together, working along with the brands’ standards.

“Right now I believe we have about 50 licenses,” she said. “It started with Good Humor, and then it transpired from there.”

When Hennessey joined the team, she said the Good Humor brand had already been established. Picking up with Popsicle, she has now been designing for about three years. 

“I am amazed everyday that I am able to work with being creative, but also giving back,” she said. “Akron Children’s is very special, and we spent time there last summer. It was breathtaking, and it’s amazing what they do every day.”

Pictured at top: Linda Barton, center, owner of Sweet Memories Vintage Tees & Candy, cuts the ribbon to celebrate the opening of her new store in Girard.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.