The Candy Case and Studio Blush debut in Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
In her previous role as the executive director of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., Sue Cole helped dozens of people launch their businesses in downtown Oxford. On Friday, May 6, it was Cole who opened the doors to her own business—The Candy Case at 1 South Third Street in Oxford.
“I absolutely love the whole idea of being a shop owner,” explained Cole. She said that she would often think about opening her own business as she helped others realize their dreams of opening their own shops, but “it was always one of those things where I would say, ‘someday.’ Today is my someday.”
May 6 was “someday” for Shane and Tara Miller, too, as they opened their Studio Blush salon at 37 S. Third St. Oxford officials turned out for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony during the First Friday event.
Tara has 22 years of experience as a hair stylist, and this is her first time owning her own salon.
“It really feels amazing,” she said. “We love this community, and we wanted to be a part of it.”
The Rising Sun, Md. couple said that they were attracted to Oxford's small-town charm.
“We wanted to be in a town atmosphere—a place where people can go shop or eat after they have their hair styled,” Shane explained.
Tara said that when she and Shane were making plans for their own business, one of the things that they wanted was to create a space where their clients would experience a real sense of community and enjoy a comfortable environment where everyone feels welcome.
“I want them to connect and feel pretty from the inside out,” Tara explained.
The salon offers a wide variety of hair styling services.
“We specialize in hair coloring,” Tara said, explaining that she is board-certified as a hair colorist.
She is joined at the salon by two stylists, Kim Bruhn and Katie Dutt.
“Kim is a fabulous stylist and Katie is a young talent who is really building her skills,” Tara said, adding that all the stylists continue their education and training to stay informed about the latest trends and styles.
Shane and Tara both said that they immediately felt right at home when they opened their business in Oxford.
“The community has taken us in and made us feel welcome,” Shane explained. “We can’t wait to give back to the community.”
The Candy Case’s reception in Oxford was nothing short of sweet. The shop carries a wide variety of sweets, ranging from old-fashioned candies to caramels to Rice Crispy treats to chocolate-covered Herr’s potato chips and pretzels. The Candy Case also has a large assortment of gift baskets for sale, and she is looking forward to preparing custom orders for special occasions like birthdays, graduations, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas.
Cole said that the community has been very supportive as she has prepared to open The Candy Case, which is only fitting since Cole has lent a helping hand to so many in Oxford through the years.
Betsy Brantner, the Oxford Borough Manager, said that Cole’s past experience with Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. will help her as she begins the new endeavor.
“I am so excited for her,” Brantner said. “It’s a great location. I’m sure her business is going to be wonderful.”
Jerome Rodio, the president of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce, noted that Cole recently stepped in to serve as the interim executive director of the chamber of commerce, yet one more time that she has come through in a pinch for the Oxford community.
“My hope for her,” Rodio said, “is that she gets too busy with her store to be able to help us out. The store is really bright and looks very good. It looks the best that I’ve ever seen it.”
In addition to her supporters in the community, Cole said that her family made the opening of the store possible.
“I have an amazingly supportive family,” she said, explaining that her husband, Jamie, did a lot of work on the interior of the store, including designing and building the display cases.
As a line of people formed to make purchases, Cole talked about how sweet it is to be the candy business.
“People splurge on candy,” she explained. “It’s an affordable, feel-good, pick-me-up. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the local community.”
Donna Hosler, the executive director of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., said that a candy store was at the top of the list of businesses that people wanted in town, and she was very excited about its arrival. She was also excited about the addition of Studio Blush to the roster of downtown businesses.
With the additions of the two new businesses, the number of vacant storefronts in the downtown has been reduced to only about seven or eight. Hosler said that she wants to continue to add boutique shops in town, and another important goal is to attract a medium-to-large-sized employer—perhaps the marketing department of a company—to boost the foot traffic in town at lunch time so that the restaurants in town receive a boost.