GREENFIELD — The bells tinkled every few seconds, another customer swinging the door open and joining the little queue waiting for a treat.
Set on a little shelf to the right of the register, overlooking the hustle and bustle, a portrait of Mary Guinn smiles out over the shop she spend her life growing into one of the county’s longest-run family businesses.
The Sweet Shop – a little doughnut shop Guinn opened with her late husband nearly 50 years ago that grew to be a Main Street mainstay – reopened Saturday in the hands of the next generation after the loss of its matriarch, calming rumors of permanent closure.
Guinn died last month at age 75 after a brief illness, leaving behind four sons, a dozen grandchildren and the beloved business; for several weeks, the windows of The Sweet Shop remained dark. But Monty Guinn, one of Guinn’s sons, said closing wasn’t an option for the family she left behind. Her children knew they had to continue the business in their parents’ honor, he said. Guinn’s husband, Stanley, died in 2007.
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The family closed the business for a few weeks as they mourned, Monty Guinn said; then, they set to work, giving the Sweet Shop a facelift and hanging photos of their parents on new, bright yellow walls.
They reopened the shop for the first time over the weekend to a steady stream of customers who stood in line to wish the family well. They were old-timers and fresh faces, life-long customers and folks who just stopped by to grab some breakfast to go.
They offered hugs, handshakes and spoke messages of condolence followed almost immediately by cheerful, uplifting comments, with many expressing how glad they were to see the doors of the shop open again.
His mother would have loved it, Monty Guinn said, tears welling in his eyes. She lived for her business, he said, for customers who became her friends and the family members who worked alongside her every day.
Mary and Stanley Guinn opened The Sweet Shop in Greenfield in 1971. He was working in construction at the time, and she was a clerk at a local nurse’s office. With five young children to care for, the couple knew opening a small doughnut shop in their little town would be a big risk.
But they threw caution to the wind, buying up property on U.S. 40 in Greenfield – at first a little house they converted into a shop and then a few years later the quaint storefront at 1309 W. Main St. that is open today – and started laying the bricks of their legacy.
In the 46 years since their company first opened its doors, the Guinns, their doughnuts and the bright smiles they shared over the counter with each customer who came through the front door, became staples within the community.
Monty Guinn and his siblings — Marland, Dennis, Kenny and their late sister, Mona Gail Clark — grew up in the back of the store, slowly picking up their parents’ talents for business and doughnut-making, sometimes sleeping in the back of the little shop when they needed a nap during the day.
If the forecast called for bad weather the next day, the family booked a room at a motel across the street from the store rather than drive to their home on the east side of the county, ensuring nothing would stop them from opening The Sweet Shop the next day.
As they grew, the kids took on more responsibilities and eventually became part owners of the business, Monty Guinn said. Now, they’re taking full responsibility for the company and quickly learning about the big shoes their parents left behind, he said, juggling the deliveries, finances and day-to-day operations for the business.
“I think they did a lot that we took for granted,” Monty Guinn said.
The support the family has been shown by the community in the days since Guinn died has been a welcome surprise, Monty Guinn said. He knew The Sweet Shop’s regular customers would mourn alongside the family, but he didn’t expect the outpouring they received, from the Facebook messages customers shared to the visitors who stopped by to pay their final respects to his mother, he said.
For the customers who benefited from the family’s kindness of the years, it seemed fitting to give back in a little way, visitors said on Saturday.
While Greenfield resident Kathy Dowling wouldn’t consider herself a regular customer at The Sweet Shop, she admits the little store is tied to all the celebratory moments of her life. Whenever her family needed a sugary treat to commemorate an event, they headed to The Sweet Shop — the best place for doughnuts in town, she said.
“It became a tradition for our family,” she said. “You can tell the quality and love they put into everything.”