By Peter Edgar
One of the sweetest spots in Lakeland these days is Got Candy and More, a local confectionery that is located on Kentucky Avenue, across from Palace Pizza and Taco Bus. Its location downtown opened in August of 2015, and since then has served the citizens and visitors of Lakeland with its variety of candy, chocolate, and catering options. The story of the shop, and more importantly, of its founder, is truly remarkable.
I met Lea Williams one early afternoon inside Got Candy, and I had but a minute to speak with her due to the busy nature of her work. At the moment, she was preparing orders, waiting on a customer, and prepping for the impending hurricane.
In the moments I did have to speak with her, though, she described her initial process for beginning the store: “I was working for my husband at the time—I still work for my husband—but I wanted something of my own. So I began looking for something: this was in a downed economy, so I [researched] businesses that work in a downed economy.”
Her results, as she explored the options available to her, became known after 3 months of searching and consideration. She stated, “Candy: it’s a comfort food. Some might call it a luxury. So when times get tough, we’re in a recession, people will say ‘Maybe we only eat ice cream once a week’ or ‘We’re not going to eat out as much’, but they won’t give up candy.”
After she had decided to enter the candy business, Williams knew that she had to decide what candy to produce. She started by deciding on hard candy—lollipops, to be precise. “I had decided [on lollipops]—and then I thought to myself: ‘How many lollipops am I going to have to sell for it to be worth it?’” So she branched out to one of the most globally appreciated confections of all time: chocolate.
The search for good candy recipes was the next and larger issue. Williams spent three years doing more research. She scoured recipes and explored techniques, trying different tastes and textures, perfecting her craft. She wanted to be absolutely confident in the product she was going to be selling.
Finally, she opened her first shop, further north in Lakeland. She spent a year and a half there before moving to her current location downtown. Now, alongside her initial lollipops and chocolate, she makes and sells homemade Working Cow ice cream, variations on cake, and other “savory items”. Furthermore, her store offers brand-name candy in addition to her store-made confections.
Lea Williams’s hard work and dedication to her store has wielded strong results. Her store has been active in the community as well: Williams is a leading member of the Downtown Lakeland Partnership, and shares in the responsibility for events in and around Munn Park.
Got Candy & More’s online statement reflect the passion and commitment with which Williams and the five other ‘cup-cake designers’ operate in-store: “We are dedicated to one thing and one thing only—confection perfection!”
For more information, visit http://gotcandylakeland.com/ or the “Got Candy and More” Facebook page.