Chocolate in bloom in Teri’s Sweet Garden in Los Lunas
Teri Leahigh had a deeply personal reason for wanting to open a specialty candy shop.
“My father loved candy,” she said. “He was a chocoholic. I told myself that someday I’d open a shop for him. This is for my dad.”
“This” is Teri’s Sweet Garden, a tiny candy store tucked away at the back of a historic building at 120 W. Main St. in Los Lunas, on the east side of the parking lot opposite Teofilo’s Restaurant.
“This was her dream,” said Teri’s husband, Mark, an electrician who Teri credits with the interior design of the store.
“Teri wanted to have a little country store,” said Mark, “and that’s what it’s turned into. Customers will stay and talk for half an hour.”
“It’s like an old-fashioned candy store,” said Teri. “People come in and stay and talk and they’re just so friendly. It’s just a whole lot of fun.”
Leahigh has been making her own chocolate for about 12 years, and although her father never got to see the store, he was able to share the candy she made over the years — candy that often drew the comment that she ought to open a store.
“We didn’t jump right into it,” she said. “We put the word (and the chocolate) out with family and friends, and we got a real good reception, so we decided to go for it.”
After a brief stint inside Your Play Cafe, Leahigh moved into the current space on Nov. 1 and business has grown quickly.
“Once we moved over here, it just took off,” she said. “I think we get a lot of business because of Teofilo’s.”
The store is already starting to get a little cramped, Leahigh said, and at some future point, Teri’s will swap spaces with the architect at the front of the building, where there’s twice as much space.
Leahigh makes all the chocolate herself, with about 40 different flavors available and more than 3,000 molds, so she can produce custom chocolate shapes for any kind of special occasion, any kind of event or for special uses such as business advertising and promotions.
And if she doesn’t have a mold for the occasion, she has a secret weapon — her teenage daughter, Emilie, who is a talented artist and can create special artwork as needed.
“Our slogan is ‘Your Imagination is our Specialty,’” said Mark.
“We get a lot of requests,” said Teri, “and we try to make them. We will make anything they want. It’s so much fun, especially when people ask for strange things.”
Asked about the strangest request she’s ever received, Leahigh thought a moment, then said, “I think the strangest thing was money. They wanted bills and coins as a gift for an accountant. There weren’t any molds available, so we had to make those by hand,” with Emilie creating the artwork.
One of the store’s specialties is chocolate “lollipops” in multiple flavors using white, milk or dark chocolate and decorated with polka-dots, a recurring theme throughout the store. A continual promotion involving the “lollipops” is buy five, get the sixth free.
There are various forms of chocolate candy, and Leahigh said she will add almost anything at the request of customers. For instance, just this week, after numerous requests, she is adding a line of sugar-free chocolates for diabetics.
“We’ve had a lot of people ask for that,” she said, “so we decided we had to do it.”
The store carries some other types of candy, plus jawbreakers, flavored popcorns, pickles, and, starting this week, Slushees — and she’ll add others on request — but the emphasis remains on chocolate.
And among the varieties of chocolate is a soft candy called R.J.’s, in honor of Teri’s father.
“It was his favorite candy,” she said.
Teri’s Sweet Garden is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The phone number is 565-7896, and orders can be made through the website, www.terissweetgarden.com.
Contact Dana Bowley