Barrington’s SweetSpot faces bitter lease dispute
Fourteen-year-old Reiley Thomas shows off the extra large candy bars available at the SweetSpot candy store Oct. 4 in Barrington. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 18, 2012 8:47PM
BARRINGTON — The typically-chipper Doreen Thomas appeared defeated Oct. 4 as she prepared for SweetSpot’s 2:45 p.m. student rush hour.
When the afternoon bell rang across the street, her uncharacteristic demeanor quickly turned positive as two large groups of Barrington High School students piled into the shop to pick out snacks and marvel at the one-pound candy bars.
According to the Barrington Hills resident and candy shop owner, her landlord could soon force SweetSpot out of the ideal location near the high school for reasons she says are still unclear.
Thomas explained the situation in an email she sent out to friends, family and customers last month.
“Unfortunately, our lease is up and the landlord is making it virtually impossible for us to stay,” she wrote. “They plan on increasing our rent by 50 percent in early October including lease amendments and demands that are excessive and/or extreme, notwithstanding the current economic conditions.”
Thomas concluded that she would have to either find an investor to buy the building or find a different location to operate, which would likely be far from the high school.
Since sending the email, Thomas said she has been searching for answers and working with investors to possibly purchase the building. She said this would allow her the opportunity to operate under more reasonable conditions.
The Village of Barrington has reached out to help find a new location for SweetSpot, Thomas said, and area businesses also have offered assistance and advice.
“Nothing makes sense,” said Thomas when asked about the lease situation. “I’ve been talking and trying to negotiate with (the landlord), but we can’t get any straight answer about anything.”
Thomas said property owners Sergey Taitler and Yuri Birg tacked on an additional $50 to the monthly rent, and she was ready to accept and pay the new $1,750 amount. She claims they then refused to negotiate with her because she had let her son and a friend park in a couple of spots in which they were not authorized.
Thomas said she later offered $1,800 a month, but they turned that down. She said they are now holding out for $2,500.
When reached by the Barrington Courier-Review, Birg said he would not confirm any numbers. He did say that Thomas had violated the terms of her lease.
Located at 102 S. Hager Ave., SweetSpot is considered one of the high school’s sweetest after school hangout spots. Having recently celebrated her two-year anniversary in June, Thomas hopes to avoid moving from the prime spot near the school.
The after school crowd of students Oct. 4 also expressed their hopes that the shop could find a way to stay.
“I was here the day it opened, and it’s been nice because we don’t need a car to get over here, we can just walk,” said BHS freshman Max Kiley.
Fellow freshman Clayton Murray said if SweetSpot moved, he would lose his go-to place to buy Vanilla Coke.
“Barrington is a vintage-looking town,” he said. “This place kind of symbolizes Barrington because it has that same kind of look.”
Kiley and Murray were accompanied by classmates Conor Melaniphy, Sam Nelson, Tommy Suppes, Riley Thomas and Andy Trzaska. All of whom agreed that losing the local “mom and pop” candy store would be a tremendous loss to BHS students.
Nelson explained that SweetSpot’s best candy is the “old school” stuff, like the Cadbury Curly Wurly bars.
Featuring an entire aisle of nostalgic candy, SweetSpot’s selection includes Chuckles, Satellite Wafers, Warheads, Caramel Apple Pops, Chocolate Ice Cubes and Zotz.
For more information about SweetSpot, call (847) 381-2320.