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Community spirit Sweet Reads owner keeps seeing spirit of written word, community at store By Jason Schoonover


isa Deyo is quick to greet customers young and old coming into Sweet Reads. A few minutes after talking to a couple from out of town visiting the Spam Museum, she greeted a family of regulars stopping by to browse for books. “The bear really needs a hug; he’s getting lonely,” she told the two children as she pointed to a large stuffed bear near the back of the store.

Talking to Deyo, a long-time Austin teacher, it’s still easy to see the thrill that comes with owning a bookstore, which she’s long said was a lifelong dream. She even gets a little choked up when talking about her experience connecting with Austin and visitors during the early months at her store. “I feel like this whole place has just been wrapped in the community’s arms,” she said. “... It’s just been amazing.” When Deyo looks around her bookstore Sweet Reads, two words

come frequently to her mind and her lips: passion and spirit. Deyo continues to be amazed by the support and connections she’s made owning the downtown bookstore at 407 N. Main St. in Austin, as she praised the community for supporting the store, the local authors it helps promote and the store’s vision. “People are so passionate in this community and I feel it,” Deyo said. “They bring their passions, they bring their passions for their activities.” After formally opening June

3, Deyo said business really picked up toward the end of summer with many activities downtown from Hormel Foods 125th anniversary and the Spam Museum’s grand opening to the various events organized through the downtown retailers association. “I love being part of the downtown, just very supportive,” Deyo said. In Sweet Reads, Deyo and her husband, John, tried to bring an experience to life. Near the front of the shop, John built

a large model train that people can walk through as they browse books, and they can ring a bell to trigger a model train inside. Near the back, there’s a circle of the chairs around a fireplace for people or groups to chat or check out books over coffee — preferably with brew from fellow downtown business the Coffee House on Main, as Deyo notes point to a sign that says the shop’s coffee is welcome.  

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LIsa Deyo show off one of her favorite places within Sweet Reads. Eric Johnson/photodesk

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maple sugar leaves

Just in time for fall, Sweet Reads is offering a taste of the new season. These maple sugar leaves are made of pure maple syrup. $4.99

decades bag

These gift bags are perfect for adults looking to get a taste of their childhood. Each bag features a variety of candy that were popular in the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s. The price is $9.99 per bag.

gummy pumpkins

Sweet gummy shaped pumpkins will help fans of Halloween get into the holidays with this seasonal treat. $1.99 per quarter pound.



Not only can customers eat these candies, but they can play with them as well. This sweet-tart flavored candy can be stacked and used to create miniature candy lands. “You can actually build with them,” Sherman said. A quarter pound of the candy is $1.99.

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Sweet Reads offers a range of choices to satisfy your sweet and savory sides

This story previously appeared in Austin Living magazine


dorned in a candy print dress covered with chocolates, ice cream and treats galore, it’s clear Diane Sherman has a passion for candy. She sells equally as unique and colorful candy behind the counter of Sweet Reads, located at 407 N. Main St, Austin. “She’s the candy czar,” owner Lisa Deyo said about Sherman. She also refers to her as “candy queen” as Sherman chooses which candies to sell by determining which are colorful, nostalgic and approachable. “We want it to be fun,” Sherman said. With a full shelf of old-fashioned sweets like Gibralatars and Building Blox and seasonal treats like Maple Sugar Leaves and Gummy Pumpkins, you’ll have no trouble getting a fix for that sweet tooth.

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sweet or sour gummy pigs With the Spam Museum right across the street, it made sense for the store to include a link to hometown flavors. While they do not taste like Spam, the sweet gummies are shaped like pigs and made in Minnesota. They are are available in a sour flavor as well. The sweets are $1.99 per quarter pound.

candy buttons

Although they cannot be worn, the candy buttons are a favorite among children and adults feeling nostalgic. The candy dots come on sheets of paper in three different flavors: cherry, lime and lemon. Because of the colorful and unique nature of the sweet, they have become a favorite for Sherman as well. “They are unusual to find,” she said. Two sheets of the candy are $1.49.

Seasoned Crickets

Many customers are hopping to Sweet Reads to get a taste of seasoned crickets, a popular item sold at the store. The seasoned snack comes in sour cream and onion, bacon and cheese, and salt ’n vinegar. Each package is $2.50.

Lemon Gibraltar

This old fashioned candy offers a bit of history for customers looking to get some smarts with their sweets. The Gibraltar was the first candy sold Commercially in the United States and includes a brief background of the product on the back. The candy is available in both peppermint and lemon for $1. each.

old time mix

This goody bag of candy features treats from similar time periods. It includes Bit-O-Honey, Mary Jane, Root Beer Barrels and Lemonheads. “There’s an element of nostalgia,” Sherman said. The bag is $1.99 per quarter pound.

Curly Girlz Truffles

Using local products, Curly Girlz Candy, located out of Medford, Minnesota, sells a wide range of treats. At Sweet Reads, customers can get a variety of truffles, including: milk or dark sea salt caramels, milk or dark chocolate truffles, white chocolate limoncello truffles or key lime truffles. “You cannot eat just one,” Deyo said. Individual truffles are $1.50 or can be purchased five for $4.



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A night on the town Austin Daily Herald

A l m o s t 3 0 0 wo m e n filled the Holiday Inn Conference Center on Oct. 13 for Ladies Night Out. The purpose of the event was to raise money for non-traditional students. The partnership is done through the Austin Area Chamber

of Commerce and Riverland Community College Foundation. The event has been going on for many years. Every fall women in business get together to raise money for the scholarship. This year there we re 3 0 t abl e s. M a ny businesses donated items to auction off at raffles.

The money is then put together and given to the Riverland Foundation. The theme this year was Pajama Party. Ladies dressed in their best pajama outfits and filled the Holiday Inn. Bendixen Jewelry was busy making popcorn. Ladies bought the popcor n by the box and then a random draw-

ing was done and Bendixen donated gifts from their store. Many tables get creative and have little trinkets at them. Some groups will coordinate outfits to have a little fun with the theme. If anyone is interested in joining the event you call the Austin Chamber of Commerce at 437-4561.

Groups pose for photos during Ladies Night Out. Groups shown here include: American Family Insurance, top left; AmericInn, top right; CliftonLarsonAllen, bottom left; and Riverland Community College, bottom right. Photos provided

Former AL resident opens store through holidays By Sarah Stultz

ALBERT LEA — A former Albert Lea resident has turned a hobby into a business venture with the opening of a new holiday pop-up store in the community. Tanya Westrum, who lives in Northfield, on Saturday opened a store called Barnyard Kids at 1907 E. Main St. The store offers infant clothing, blankets, bibs, stuffed animals and backpacks, along with adult T-shirts and hats — all which can be embroidered with personalized

initials or other images. Westrum said she also provides an embroidery service for items people purchased elsewhere or if people need help designing an embroidered image. Westrum, who still has family in the area, said she started sewing after she got married when her mother and mother-in-law bought her a sewing machine. She eventually opened her own Etsy shop online and invested in an embroidery machine, taking her hobby a step further.

She started taking part in the Autumn Festival in Canterbury Park in Shakopee for two years in a row, which showcases handcrafted home decor and gifts from more than 500 vendors from 30 states. Westrum said it was challenging for her to set up for just a day or two at a time, so then she questioned whether she could open up a temporary store at the building her father-in-law, Dean Westrum, co-owns on East Main Street in Albert Lea. She is also participating in

other venues such as the Autumn Blaze Festival on Saturday downtown and has had items for sale at Electric Beach and The Color Wheel. Though she does not live in town, she said the location has been convenient for her because she lives right off of the interstate in Northfield. She said it has also been helpful to have the support of family in the area, including her parents, Richard and Sheryl Sydnes. Her mother sews all of the flannel blankets available for sale at the store.

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Books: Store brings out passion From Page 1 Then in the back of the store, she offers a large Berenstain Bears exhibit courtesy of for mer Austin High School band director Bradley Mariska, an avid collector. An aspect of the store Lisa wants to emphasize are the local and regional items. The store carries books written by Austin authors, as well as books and magazines about Minnesota. Deyo is thrilled many people have bought books with Austin ties to give to relatives and loved ones. “These Austin books, people are buying them give to their relatives and different people Eventually, she plans to carry Austin and Minnesota clothing as well. The store offers a variety of items and activities for customers and is more than just reading materials. Sweet Reads carries a variety of local candy and products. Dianne Sher man is in charge of candy, which she describes as “vintage and retro.” Curly Girlz Candy in Medford supplies fudge and other treats. There are also handcrafted cards and painted stones made by Susan DeVries. In the fu-

ture, Lisa plans to bring author visits and book talks to the store. She also hinted at an upcoming exhibit in June which she can “barely contain [her] excitement” about. She said the spirit of the store has been cultivated by her staff and c o - c o n t r i bu t o r s, t h e community and the atmosphere of the store itself. But largely, she credits the community.   Deyo said she sees Austin residents as being passionate about their community and wanting a place that is smart and artistic and is a place where people can go stop by a coffee shop and a book store like Sweet Reads. “It’s passion for people,” she said. “It’s passion for books; the literary world is so amazing. It’s passion for adventure.” Deyo said she sees Austin residents proud to bring their friends and family back home to show them places like the Spam Museum, Sweet Reads and many other Austin destinations. “How can you not absorb that passion and make it happen here — and it makes me cry,” Deyo said.

National Business Women's Week, October 16-22, 2016