Mt. Airy cancer survivor looks to give out good vibes with new candy store

 Wendy Weinstein in Sugar Hill. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Wendy Weinstein in Sugar Hill. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

From a tiny storefront on East Durham Street, Wendy Weinstein hopes to bring back fond memories and help create a cache of new ones.

Weinstein, 53, hopes to open Sugar Hill in Mt. Airy this summer, an old-fashioned style candy shop where customers can pay just pennies for sweets.

It’s just the kind of store she haunted in her elementary school days in Northeast Philadelphia.

“We would go there and pick out candy and hang out there,” said Weinstein, who also owns the Ground Zero hair salon right next door. “It was just a place where everybody met and that’s what I thought would be cool about this.”

The store

The colorful space is filled with a variety of items tied to Weinstein’s network of family and friends — little reminders of the people she loves.

The green and white Hess trucks that line a long lip below the ceiling belong to her father’s 30-year collection.

Some of the store’s candy containers were picked from a South Carolina barn owned by her boyfriend’s grandmother.

The hulking cash register from 1901? That’s from a friend whose mother is in the antique business.

Weinstein said Mt. Airy is just the kind of neighborhood that’ll appreciate those sentimental touches and the welcoming, community vibe she wants the shop’s aesthetics to scream.

“They’re down to earth people and they’re just chilling and they don’t want to spend too much money,” she said.

Giving back

Weinstein also thinks that residents in her slice of the city will support the decision to send some of the shop’s profits to City of Hope, a national cancer research organization.

For every dollar that comes in, Weinstein will set aside a nickel.

“It’s more to get people aware of what’s happening. All I want to do is create some kind of conversation about it and bring it to yet another community,” said Weinstein, a cancer survivor and president of the group’s Philadelphia chapter.

For Weinstein, giving back is second nature.

Since launching Ground Zero in 1987, Weinstein has made charity a cornerstone of all of her locations. In fact, every franchise contract includes a provision that says owners must give some of their time to a good cause.

Weinstein and her employees have routinely participated in national events like Hope Cuts, an annual effort through City of Hope that offers haircuts at a high-end salon at reduced prices.

She’s also helped organize local events, like a fundraising walk to honor an owner’s brother who died from cancer as a teen.

It’s all an extension of Weinstein’s mission to lift spirits whether it’s through a fresh haircut, a piece of candy or helping others find cures for a deadly disease.

“That’s what I do,” said Weinstein. “I like making pleasant memories come back into your head.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal