Since starting in 2015, we knew that Hopscotch would need a building one day that could accommodate baking needs, but also we wanted something that could allow us to grow, be a part of a real neighborhood and make a difference in the community. Opening inside Art Mart was a big step towards the right direction, but It was an extra bonus when we found these things and a landlord that believed in our project (because fostering relationships with other local businesses is a must, but more on that in a later post).
Building hunting is tough, you can't just jump on Zillow to look for property. With the help of an observant friend, we soon stumbled across 802 West John Street. The building is situated right in the heart of old town Champaign. Kitty-corner from Southside Elementary School and to the east of that is the administration office for Unit 4 schools, the Mellon Building. South of these buildings there are baseball fields, where nearly everyone we know played farm league as a kid.
802 West John Street has been a corner market sine 1937, with the first being Gallions; a grocery store that had produce, meats and most importantly, candy. The old timers tell us that after school they would walk over to the store to pick up penny candy and ice cream (yo-yo demonstrations too). After Gallions, in 1964, came Kelsey’s who carried on with the tradition of grocery delivery and corner market. Rumor has it Mr. Kelsey was known for giving candy away.
Since 1970 the location has been Ms. Winnifred Sanders' dietary shop. In the early '70s and '80s she provided dietary needs for an underserved community. She has kept the store up and running since 2015, when she decided to retire. To read more about the dietary store, click here. The building went up for sale and Jeff Wampler purchased it, being from the neighborhood, hoping to keep the corner store tradition alive.
To honor the stores before us, we are going to reuse the vintage ice cream cooler and the candy case. Unfortunately, the ice cream cooler is past its prime and will not be used for ice cream (bummer) BUT it (and the candy case) will be used to display authentic handmade goods from some of our amazing local vendors.
We will be the fourth business that has set up shop there - and although we haven’t officially moved in, I daydream about coming back in 40 years from now to find another corner market has set up shop. Hopefully by that time we’ve made an impact the way the stores before us did.