Crackling fire. Smoke. Dreams smoldered in minutes. Sweet dreams these were not. On Wednesday, October 10, 2012, Montgomery County business owners Felicia Evans Long and her husband Tim Long saw their second business in Lumberton, N.C., destroyed by fire.
The Longs own Chevy Chase-based event planning business Sweet Events and Planning, LLC, with preparations to launch Sweet Candy Café, a candy store in Felicia’s hometown of Lumberton, N.C. Sweet Candy Café is a sister store to Sweet Events and Planning. However, a destructive church fire that broke out next to their rented store space dashed those hopes. Only the day before were they applying a fun red paint to bare white walls. Candy canisters they won in an eBay bid—destroyed. Lost, were monies invested to ready the vacated space for a December 3, 2012 grand opening. Candy delights were now red and flashing lights atop emergency vehicles with the sound of bulldozers removing brick from the flattened church next door, where the fire originated.
According to Lumberton newspaper, The Robesonian, it took an hour for 42 area firefighters to extinguish the flames. Cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
Evans Long made front page news in The Robesonian, her hometown newspaper.
“It was just devastating,” says Evans Long. “With the money, resources and time invested over the last few months, I am taken aback by how quickly we lost it all.”
The local fire marshal deemed their rental space condemned. To compound to the situation, the Longs had not yet purchased renter’s insurance, which would cover items lost in the fire.
However, there is a “sweet” silver lining to this story. The building’s owner, Dick Taylor, also owns seven buildings in the downtown and has begun to help the Longs restore their dreams to “bring something sweet to the downtown” as Evans Long says.
The Lumberton community knows Evans Long well and was excited for her presence and cheerful spirit. The Longs initially considered opening the candy store in Germantown, Md., but were discouraged by the $1,200 monthly fee for a space they could rent for $325 in Lumberton, N.C. Though starting up and operating the business from a distance would pose some logistical challenges, the Longs believe enough in their dream to move forward.
“I’m going to turn this thing around,” she said. “I’m still excited, and will work cheerfully and vigorously.”
Evans Long and her husband have the same determination to enhance the communities by which they live and do business, as they have since 2008 with Sweet Events and Planning. Evans Long, who has 10 years of event planning experience, has coordinated detailed wedding ceremonies and receptions for couples in the Maryland area, New York, North Carolina. They have planned anniversaries, senior citizen celebrations, birthday parties, corporate events and more. For their clients, The Longs offer a mini-version of a candy store for events with the Sweet Events and Planning Signature Candy Parlor™. Evans Long first created the Signature Candy Parlor for her wedding in 2006 and it has since become a customer favorite. Guests are given festive bags to load up on as many candies as they please.
“It’s our belief that every event deserves to be sweet,” says Evans Long.
The Longs continue to serve the Montgomery County community as they enter their fifth successful year in the event planning business. They’ve learned important lessons in business even though this latest blow to their dreams has temporarily delayed the grand opening of Sweet Candy Café.