Art Mart + Our First Anniversary

Caroline here entering our first item into the Hopscotch case at Art Mart

Caroline here entering our first item into the Hopscotch case at Art Mart

A lot has happened in one years time. This time one year ago we were anxiously hustling around trying to get everything ready for the soft opening that turned out more grand than planned. Art Mart had been planning for their new location at 1705 S. Prospect for going on two years at this point. Meticulously going over where bathrooms would go, how the store would be laid out and what would be in each section. Sometimes you can be so immersed in something that you forget how foreign it is to someone else. That's how I feel now with our new building and I imagine how Brian + Courtney felt then. I had only been in the store a few times and wasn't really in the know on most things since Hopscotch was a small detail in a vast land of important pressing matters. The tiniest details seemed so big to me then. Making sure I had the correct amount of laminated tags and the perfectly placed plates and special Windex. I think I rearranged the shelves 4 times before we opened, and it was no small feat, requiring at least a Philips head screwdriver and a small hammer. Little did I know I would soon be working 14 hour shifts for 11 days straight just to keep afloat, much less prepped for the next big thing: Valentine's Day. We had so much product in the case I never believed that it would all sell before it went stale. It barely lasted the first day. 

Our case the day we opened! We had 16 full-sized cakes that day- the most ever! 

Our case the day we opened! We had 16 full-sized cakes that day- the most ever! 

Over the next twelve months I would come to learn how to juggle my time between working the front case, baking, and being home. What does and does not sell, what takes up too much space, and how to accept custom orders in the most efficient way possible. That lead to more things, like meeting a TON of customers, a lot of whom have become good friends. It's very easy to meet people over food, I think. It's something you can each have an admiration for and it can be shared and enjoyed by almost everyone. That is initially what drew me to the culinary world, and I'm happy to say it's playing out wonderfully. That blue cake, fourth from the left, was a centerpiece for an engagement that took place later that night. Almost nothing is better than that. We've done wedding cakes, birthday, engagement, gender reveal parties, baby showers, and retirement cakes since then. Sometimes it can be a little crazy to think how many life celebrations we have been a part of in some small way. And at this point, we had no idea all of that would be coming. 

The last (or the beginning of many) of the lemon bars from the first day- best seller!

The last (or the beginning of many) of the lemon bars from the first day- best seller!

Since then, because we bake in the evenings, accommodating custom or last minute orders can be tough/impossible. Our baking schedule is from 3pm-8pm week nights, and at first that seemed like plenty since I work pretty quickly. Our first week open also coincided with our friends over at Watson's Shack + Rail opening their location, and a LOT of pies went their way. Shades did the math and it was somewhere around 500 pies or something insane sounding. Once things started to even out, graduation month came, along with it Mother's Day and Father's Day, and then wedding season hit us hard. All the while we had our Art Theatre orders, Tuesday Market, and V.Picasso desserts. Something had to give. As much as we loved Art Theatre, it was such a small account that we just couldn't continue making a tiny amount of items that were completely different from the items we were already making. They were graciously understanding about our other commitments, and so we put a pause on our work with them. The same had to happen with V.Picasso, sadly, since we just didn't have the kitchen time or space to accommodate, as did Tuesday Market. We just couldn't give up that one day to not bake in order to sell items at another location. They understood.  

Our need to expand did not come in an immediate AHA! moment, but slow, and sometimes painful moments. Going to the purveyors directly each Monday morning to pick up provisions and load them in my car in the sweaty summer and icy winter? Yeah, I could do away with that. Our purchase orders never met the minimums of delivery, so that meant among other things, I would add delivery person to my duties. Having to turn down opportunities due to space or time, was another red flag we needed to expand. After about the 100th time, you start to realize, OHHhhh! Maybe we CAN do something about that? The hunt for a brick and mortar had seemed like it was always happening (I was obsessed with a green building on Market Street that used to be a saloon and cigar factory, among other cool things, but turned out to be condemned) but never quite felt right, or was way out of price range. I'm a sucker for architecture, history, and feelings, and those don't come cheap. 

After some searching, a lot of showings, and an offer put in at a location I didn't love, my friend Erin texted me about a little building on John Street. 3 weeks later, the lease was signed. In a strange way, I have the same feelings I did at this exact time last year. Anticipation, worry, excitement, over-preparedness, impatience, all those super calm and comforting feelings (NOT) but this time it's a little different. All those laminated tags, perfectly sized plates and special windex have become HVAC systems, plumbing, and flooring choices. It can sometimes feel overwhelming like there's a million moving parts, but then I realize, we've done this before. 

XO, Kaya

Wedding Highlight : Andy + Talia

Photograph by Rachael Schiriano

Photograph by Rachael Schiriano


Even though I'm not related to anyone in this wedding, and have only known the bride and groom a short time, I get teary eyed every time I look at their photos from their wedding day. A perfect example of classic and timeless is portrayed with each photo, each design element, and each surrounding.The whole event reminds me of a Jane Austen story. 

I'm sure a lot of this has to do with the bride's vision for the day- and the endless planning that went into it, but the eye of their photographer, Rachel Schiriano, is key to capturing all of it. Andy and Talia are entranced by each other throughout the whole day and you can feel it being around them and their families.

Every once in a while we get to be a part of these amazing events that are truly the highlight of what we do. Thank you Andy + Talia for letting Hopscotch be a part of your vision. 

Planner: Gwen Wilson

Florist: Flowers by Kristine

Dessert: Hopscotch Cakes and Confections

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Allerton Park

Music: Erik Swanson

Bride’s Dress: Watters from BHLDN

Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade

Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Jenny Yoo

Groom’s Suit: Banana Republic

Calligraphy: Letters from Lindsey

Stationary: Alexa Nelson Prints

To view the rest of the photos click here.


Photograph by Rachael Schiriano

Photograph by Rachael Schiriano

Photograph by Rachel Schiriano
Photograph by Rachael Schiriano. Desserts by Hopscotch

Photograph by Rachael Schiriano. Desserts by Hopscotch

Photograph by Rachael Schiriano. Desserts by Hopscotch

Photograph by Rachael Schiriano. Desserts by Hopscotch

Photograph by Rachael Schiriano. Desserts by Hopscotch

Photograph by Rachel Schiriano

XO, Kaya

Our sweet building and why we chose it

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.  

Love, Kelly

 

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