From UConn director to ‘jolly candy store owner’
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 00:09
When the teacher went around the room and asked all of her students what they wanted to be when they grew up, some boys said “fireman” and others said “football player,” but Barry Schreier had much sweeter pursuits: he wanted to own a candy store.
Just over two weeks ago, Schreier officially resigned as Director of Counseling and Mental Health Services at UConn to follow his childhood dream in the new Storrs Center.
“I’ve gone from Chief Mental Health Officer to jolly candy store owner,” said Schreier, whose store “Sweet Emotions” will open this Friday.
Schreier, a resident of Storrs for five years, said he was always a huge proponent of the Storrs Center development. Along with other supporters of the project, he formed a political action committee called Smart Growth for Mansfield to ensure that the project passed.
“We’re of the community, doing this for the community, being built by the community,” said Schreier.
Schreier said that his partner Tom Birkenholz, Development Officer at Windham Hospital Foundation, was very patient after Schreier proposed that they “cut [their] income by two-thirds and triple [their] expenses.”
Birkenholz said although the candy store was not his personal dream, he has been very supportive of Schreier’s undertaking, even after part of Schreier and Birkenholz’s home became the store’s “warehouse.”
“As long as it’s mostly contained in one room, it will be okay,” said Birkenholz. “It’s going to be a big part of our life.”
Sweet Emotions will have a four-foot-long chocolate display case, including eight different flavors of malt balls with flavors from cappuccino to strawberry and cream. Seventy-five jars filled with candy will line the walls and each customer will be given disposable gloves to dig in and make their selection.
“Tongs and scoops are for losers,” Schreier said.
Although people have questioned how sanitary his system is, Schreier has done his research. He visited a candy store at a mall and watched as tongs were sneezed on or dropped on the floor, picked up, and used again.
Schreier thinks that the gloves are “much more hygienic” and customers will be able to get what they really want.
Patrick Hawkins, a senior at E.O. Smith High School and one of the six employees who will be working at Sweet Emotions, has been volunteering at the store to get it ready for its opening. He said he thought everything would be a lot more hectic.
“They’re handling it really well,” said Hawkins.
Of all the hundreds of people who have given their input on Sweet Emotions, he has only gotten a couple of skeptical reactions.
“The response has been lovely,” he said.
Sweet Emotions will offer locally made, sugarless, vegan, organic, gluten free, and kosher options to achieve Schreier’s mission of never having to deny a customer. He will also feature special deals in October for students making purchases using Husky Bucks.
Elise Yonika, a 5th-semester psychology and human development and family studies major, knows Schreier from his work with suicide prevention and said she will be visiting the store once it opens.
“If it’s something that he’s been wanting to do, more power to him for making it happen,” Yonika said.
Although students will not find Schreier around Health Services anymore, he will remain present in the community.
“I’ll continue to serve UConn but in a different way,” Schreier said. “And I’m pleased to do it.”