Sweet Stuff on Washtenaw
"We went down for the grand opening, and my wife said, 'We should do this in Ann Arbor,'" recalls Kimble, who owns Boersma Travel with Pamela. Kimble says he's fully committed to the travel industry, but Pamela, who works at Boersma, isn't. "She's been wanting to get out of the travel business for some time. When she asked that we do this, I couldn't say no."
After researching the business, he decided his sister was on to something. Gji's, which is near Ace Barnes Hardware between Huron Parkway and Pittsfield, sells more than 200 kinds of candy: the store's wooden shelves are lined with glass jars filled with jelly beans, jelly babies, chocolate-covered nuts and pretzels, gummy fruit slices, and all kinds of hard candy. Gji's also sells what Kimble calls "nostalgic candy" like Sky Bars, Chick-O-Sticks, Valomilks, and flying saucers--a small, flying saucer-shaped wafer with a candy core. "The first week we were open, a couple came in. They said they'd been looking for flying saucers and couldn't find them. They bought our entire inventory."
The store also has sixteen different flavors of ice cream, plus smoothies and shakes. But the core of the business is gourmet popcorn. They have five kinds: caramel, cheese, kettle corn-style, movie theater-style, and Chicago-style--freshly popped and coated with an evil blend of buttery caramel and melted cheese. Kimble says it's instantly familiar to anyone in Chicago. His sister spent a year and a half perfecting her own recipe. "She was experimenting with a caramel and cheese mixture, and it just caught on. People kept on asking for it." It's Gji's most popular item, in Joliet and in Ann Arbor.