Melissa Stewart, owner of Stewart’s Freeze Dried Goodies, plans to bring fun sweets to downtown Milford. Currently selling her unique items online and at a few retail locations in town, Stewart was approached by Zack and Marissa King who own the former Josephine Keir building on Walnut Street about opening a brick and mortar store in one of the four retail spaces they are creating.
“When they asked if I was interested, I said “of course,” not realizing how much work would go into this,” Stewart, who is the manager at EasySpeak, also owned by the King’s, said. “But the freeze dried community has taken off so big, I felt like I had to do it. It’s going to add something to downtown Milford for the kids. I really want to do something specifically for kids because there’s not a lot in town here for kids to try. Of course, parents, too, but I am trying to create something kids will love.”
Stewart got started in the freeze dried business when she put one candy bar in her freeze dryer in December, stating she got the idea from TikTok. She began trying many different candies and foods, from Airheads to Sour Patch Kids and Skittles. She has even offered oatmeal pies, Twinkies, pickles and more. Currently, her sales are online although she did provide them to a few stores in town, including Not Too Shabby who have posted on social media that they regularly sell out of her items.
“Once I open here, I am not putting items in other places,” Stewart said. “I will still do some online because I do have customers who order from me on a regular basis and want them shipped, so I will have that option available. But unfortunately, I will need to cut down on some items. I’m at around 36 right now and I won’t be able to carry all of them.”
Not only will Stewart offer her freeze dried specialties, she also plans to carry gourmet candies and chocolates as well as candy and caramel apples. There will also be some old-fashioned candies available in the store. Although she has not confirmed the hours she will be open, her goal is to remain open later for those who work and need more flexible hours.
“It would be nice to have things open later downtown,” Stewart said. “So I plan to stay open during the week until six or seven. On weekends, maybe as late as eight. We’ve got all these new places coming in down here to attract people who don’t want to travel all the way to the beach. I want to bring some of the stuff people now have to travel to the beach or somewhere else to get. I mean, if you want a candy apple, you have to wait for the fair each year, so we hope to bring some special, fun stuff to downtown Milford. Hopefully, that will bring more traffic downtown.”
The biggest challenge to opening the store has been paperwork and inspections. She has also struggled with what she wants to display and how she wants to display it. Her goal is to make the store bright and cheery.
“The thing I am most looking forward to is meeting some of my online customers,” Stewart said. “A lot of them are local and I do meet them sometimes when they buy the freeze dried items, but I’ve not met nearly half of them. So, it’s going to be fun, actually. Of course, I am also looking forward to new customers who have never had it or tried the unique stuff we will have in the store.”
Stewart will create special orders for those who need them as well.
“I have Laffy Taffy and Now and Laters, Airheads, they come in all different flavors and I usually just do a mixed bag,” Stewart said. “But if somebody requests, I can give them every flavor but banana if they are like ‘I am allergic to banana’ or ‘I just want the blue ones’ So, special orders are possible.”
Currently, Stewart’s Freeze Dried Goodies is not hiring. Stewart’s 23-year old daughter will manage the store as the only full time employee at first. Stewart, her husband and their younger son will also work there, so the store will be completely family operated. The store is still undergoing renovations, but Stewart hopes to open in the fall. The store will be located in the former Keir building whose address was 27 South Walnut Street in Milford. More information about the products she may offer in the store can be found on the Stewart’s Freeze Dried Goodies Facebook page.
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