Person of the Week

Tammy Bruckerhoff

Owner Sugar Momma's Candies, Home-Made Pies and Gifts

I think that we are more than just a candy and pie and gift shop. We are a shop where people come to find happiness and joy.

1. What led you to the mission of being the owner of Sugar Momma’s Candies, Home-Made Pies and Gifts?

I always thought that I was going to have some type of business. Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-Brukerhoff-6I always thought it was going to be like a bed and breakfast or guesthouse type business. As I was driving around this county and thinking about what this town needs, what does this county need, what does this region need, I felt like another retail shop – like a candy shop – would go over really well. There are no such shops in a thirty-mile radius or more. (To learn more about Sugar Momma’s Candies, click here.)

TableI didn’t think I could make it just on candy – especially with the locals. I knew that I had to have the visitors and the locals during the week and on the weekends to make this business successful. I was thinking and thinking and came up with the idea of putting pies into the mix.

Talk about complimenting each other! The pies have been equally as wonderful as the candy. The pies have been a great asset.

Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-Brukerhoff-5I actually have a degree in horticulture from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. I worked for the Missouri Department of Agriculture for twelve and a half years doing marketing and business development. The businesses were all over the state of Missouri. I was very fortunate to work with small business owners, fruit and vegetables owners, jam and jelly makers, honey producers and all kinds of small and large entrepreneurs all over the state. I was also able to travel to other states to find out what people are doing. Many of them have been inspirational to me to start my own business and be an entrepreneur. (To see and/or join Sugar Momma’s Facebook Page, click here.)

2.  What does this mission mean to you?

Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-BrukerhoffIn many ways it is truly an honor to be the owner. We are all where we are supposed to be. I truly think that I am where I am supposed to be. I think for the young at heart this is what I was meant to do. This has been so much fun. In many ways it has utilized skills that I have gotten over the years and developed by the different jobs that I have had throughout my whole career.

When I was in high school, I worked in floral shops. When I was in college I worked in a floral shop.Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-Brukerhoff-7 After college I worked for a wholesale florist in sales. So the whole floral thing comes in handy when I’m decorating the windows and merchandizing the store. Every job that I have ever had has definitely helped with this business.

My most recent job and the three years before opening this business, was being a health inspector in Gasconade County. This was really awesome because I was able to meet people all over this county. I gained an understanding of what I have to do to have a food business. Every job has led to this in my career. It’s pretty awesome.

3.  What was your best day as the owner of Sugar Momma’s Candies, Home-Made Pies, and Gifts?

Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-Brukerhoff-2There has been something neat pretty almost every day since we have opened. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Last year in December on a Saturday when I was in the store by myself, I had a great day. People were coming in and I was really excited about Christmas and being in the new store. We were only about two months old. Nis Ewald came in that day. His father and mother built this building in 1938 and opened this building as a bakery. Underneath my sign, the building still says, “Ewald Bakery”. When Nis and his wife walked in, I was truly honored and touched. I think that he was also honored and touched because this building had come full circle. I was putting life back in this building that he grew up with. That was one of the neatest days that I have had.

4.  What was your worst day as the owner of Sugar Momma’s Candies, Home-Made Pies and Gifts?

I was trying to transition the shop from Christmas to Valentine’s Day — doing the windows, tearing the Christmas decorations out of the window, putting it all together, putting Valentine’s Day decorations in. Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-Brukerhoff-3I was here until about one or one fifteen in the morning. People had offered to help me, but I thought it was something that I had to do myself. It was exhausting. I was really, really exhausted that night and I had to come in the next morning and work. I still didn’t have any employees at the time so I had to work ten am to nine pm the next day. That night that I was saying to myself, “Holy moly, this is exhausting.” But the end result was so rewarding and people loved the windows. In fact, every day people come in and comment on the windows and how neat and fun they are. Every ounce of that effort is totally worth it.

5.  How did you survive your worst day?

Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-Brukerhoff-4I think it is the inspiration that we bring to other people. I think that we are more than just a candy and pie and gift shop. We are a happy shop where people come to find happiness and joy. We bring joy to people’s lives — whether they are just driving by and we never see them or whether they turn around and come in.

6.  What advice do you have for someone who would like to own a candy, pie and/or gift store?

Sugar-Momma's-Tammy-Brukerhoff-8Put the pencil to the paper. Don’t start without a business plan. I fretted many nights before I opened and gave notice at my other job. I wanted to make sure it was going to work. Still you are on a wing and a prayer. Not everything on the paper remains being true. But at least you have some kind of plan. That business plan also has to be associated with a marketing plan. There is no doubt in my mind that I had to think through so much of it.

FrontThis didn’t evolve over night. It was something that had been in the back of my mind for fifteen or twenty years. I came up with the candy idea in March of 2013 and it was July of 2013 when I realized pie was something we needed as well.  We started working on the building in September and were open for business October 2.

If you think you some day you want start a business, think about starting it now rather than waiting ten years and saying, “We should have done that.” If you aren’t successful, at least you tried.