Photo by Martin van den Hemel
Once Upon A Time inspired Shirley Hartwell to make fairy tales come true.
In 2011, soon after Moncton Street became Main Street in the fictitious town of Storybrooke, the Steveston entrepreneur set out to promote her community as the film site for the new ABC-TV series. At the same time, she recognized her pink walking tour brochures—directing an ever-burgeoning fan base to Granny’s or Mr. Gold’s—could help those less fortunate. All funds collected from a $2 donation is directed to the Richmond Food Bank and other local charities.
“The $6,000 we have collected to date represents about 9,000 fans,” says Hartwell, owner of Steveton’s Sweet Shoppe, the Candy Dish. “In the beginning I donated the funds to the Richmond Food Bank. Then the idea of a 12 Days of Christmas to give back to the local community came to mind. I researched some to see what was needed most, as someone also had to buy these things.”
Hartwell has always been inspired to give back. She recalls as a young girl canvassing on behalf of the March of Dimes with her mom.
Today, she enjoys shopping and extending the value of the dollars at sales for items such as cosmetics, toys, socks and baby products.
“It was quite a learning experience, but so gratifying,” says Hartwell, adding she was motivated to purchase a rainbow-coloured umbrella and stand for Maples residents after noticing seniors walking in the rain. Later, she learned they enjoyed puzzles.
In another instance, she discovered a shelter needed a new can opener and potato peeler as well as dish cloths and towels.
“Women and children that end up in shelters over the holidays need everything, so to receive a wrapped gift of mittens, slippers, cosmetics and treats is a nice surprise for them,” she stresses.
She also made cash donations to Christmas fundraisers organized by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, BC Children’s Hospital, and Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as Wigs for Kids.
A former tourist guide, who spent 25 years showing others the country, Hartwell’s own fairytale came true in late 2010. At Halloween that year, she and her husband purchased the Candy Dish.
“I’d been waiting 30 years for my candy store,” she laughs. “One of my first jobs as a teen was in the candy department at a Metropolitan store where we weighed the candies on a little scale. I’ve also always been a bit creative (she introduced a special creation Snow White Fudge as a tribute to Once Upon A Time).”
Now, however, she and her husband are looking at selling the shop to “semi-retire.”
“I’d like to have more time do some more work with the charities,” explains Hartwell.