Mike Hillstrand, co-owner, in front of his Lake Geneva ice cream and confection shop Something Sweet. The shop is at 105 E. Townline Rd. off of Wells Street on the south side of Lake Geneva. (Mike Ramczyk photo)

Lake Geneva ice cream, candy shop also sells mask to the public

By Mike Ramczyk


It features all of the hits you loved growing up – ice cream, candy bars, candy cigarettes, saltwater taffy.

But Something Sweet in Lake Geneva isn’t your average one-stop sugar shop.

In these unprecedented times, where COVID-19 is affecting the way businesses operate, Something Sweet has adapted to the demand of the market.

Deemed nonessential back in March, the store, which is located on the corner of Townline Road and Wells Street in the city of Lake Geneva, had to close for three weeks.

So co-owners Kristin Carlson-Dooley and Mike Hillstrand had to improvise.

“Coronavirus actually helped us,” Hillstrand said Monday morning. “We became essential via curbside pickup. We bought masks from a local apparel manufacturer and sold them to the public, and it’s still going on. Everybody knows about it.”

Instead of simply providing all their goodies with curbside pickup in April, PFI Fashions in Genoa City partnered with Something Sweet, and Hillstrand and Carlson-Dooley, who still sell masks in the store to this day.


Taffy, ice cream and more

While the sale of masks help during the shutdown, the place still lives off its bread and butter.

“Locals don’t want to go downtown in the summer,” Hillstrand said. “Dairy Queen closed about four years ago, so we took the opportunity to give locals a place to go that wasn’t downtown with free parking and outdoor seating.”

“We have 50-plus flavors of saltwater taffy, ice cream, candy, bubble gum cigarettes, Laffy Taffy, along with sour candy, hand-dipped ice cream, shakes, malts and Dole Whip.”

Carlson-Dooley, who is from Lake Geneva, has been in the sweets business for three decades, as the 46-year-old’s family owns Candy Cove, Sweet 16 and K.C. Sweets, which all are located inside the Riviera.

Hillstrand, 49, a Twin Lakes native, says he is the main person on-site at Something Sweet, while Carlson-Dooley spends half her time at her Riviera businesses and half at Something Sweet.

“It was a great way to keep the family together and doing things,” Hillstrand said about starting Something Sweet.

Hillstrand says roughly 70 percent of business comes from locals and people who “summer,” or own second homes, in the Lake Geneva area.

They also get traffic from the surrounding areas, as people visiting Lake Geneva for the day or weekend stumble upon their store.

“Word of mouth spreads,” Hillstrand said. “Business from all over allows us to stay open year-round. We are the highest-running tenant in 12 years.”


Others have tried

There has been a beauty salon, running company and photography studio in the store in the past decade.

Since Something Sweet isn’t downtown, it doesn’t have the luxury of potential customers constantly walking by.

But ice cream, candy and salt-water taffy are best sellers, and Hillstrand said the business offers corporate gift baskets and boxes and displays for events.

“We have a great, small staff, and we know our customers on a first-name basis,” Hillstrand said. “It’s a fun, small, fully-packed experience. There are games outside for the kids, while parents chat.”

Something Sweet has outdoor picnic tables on a deck and chairs in a large yard.

During Memorial Day weekend, they opened their doors to the public, and it’s been busy since.

The store has social distancing rules and limits traffic to two or three families inside at once.

In terms of the future, Hillstrand said people are still buying masks, which he says are “not going away any time soon.”

It sounds like Something Sweet is here to stay.

“I’m very confident the business will grow and succeed into the future,” Hillstrand said.


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