In early November 2021, Carol Schuler, the owner of Sweet Variations, Fenton’s chocolate and confectionery, announced that she would be hanging up her apron and retiring after 40 years.
In January, Schuler, 69, was finalizing his retirement sale of everything in his shop and refocusing on what retirement would bring.
Schuler got her start in Fenton when she purchased a gift, candy and ice cream store on S. LeRoy Street in 1980. She later moved to the historic space at the corner of W. Shiawassee Ave. and S. LeRoy Street a year later, establishing a long and sweet relationship with area residents and visitors to the downtown Dibbleville neighborhood.
Shopping at Sweet Variations has created so many memories for generations of families. Many older people remember going to the candy store on their way home from school.
After 34 years downtown, in 2016 Schuler moved his business to 14280 N. Fenton Rd., near Sagebrush Cantina.
Chocolates and candies have always been recognized as welcome and delicious gifts for couples celebrating love or for sweet-toothed children. Sweet Variations even appeared on a 2006 episode of “Made,” which aired on MTV.
When asked what prompted her retirement, Schuler said that after 40 years and at nearly 70, she was exhausted from running a business for so many years. “You know when it’s time. It wasn’t just one thing. I tried (to retire) a few years ago, but they wouldn’t let me,” she said.
While everything in her shop has sold out, Schuler said her old cookbook is not for sale. She compared it to her grandmother’s cookbook. His grandmother was a pastry chef at Flint Golf Club many years ago. She said recipes usually just have the ingredients because she knows what to do from there.
Her favorite dessert to make is Lorenzos, named after one of her workers who helped create the recipe. It included a musky nougat with a raspberry filling.
One of Schuler’s funniest memories at the shop involves a customer who walked in and wanted her to do some chocolate poop. She said he just cracked up when he saw how realistic it was when he picked it up. He served it for dessert at a party as a joke and it was such a hit that he came back and ordered it again.
Schuler is grateful to all of her clients for making her happy over the years. “They’ve been very loyal,” she said. “Some were in line, they were very patient.
“One thing about being in a candy store – everyone’s happy.”
As for her future, Schuler said she plans to travel more and work in her garden. She is determined to find a Beauty Bush for her garden. She has many destinations on her list, including visiting lighthouses she has yet to see and a trip to Iceland.