ELLSWORTH — Less than four years after opening its doors beside The Grand on Main Street, retro-candy-and-soda store Sugar Mags is moving to a larger downtown space to fill with more than candy dots and Charleston Chews. In August, Sugar Mags Central will open in the former J&B Atlantic building, offering a pinball arcade and a community play space.
Owner Sarah Bowden said the pandemic played a role in the decision to go bigger and broader, especially in how the community supported Sugar Mags when the lockdown began. “I didn’t want not to pay [rent] during COVID,” Bowden said, so she turned to a Facebook fundraiser. “This community donated $4,500 in four days. It was overwhelming.” The fundraiser allowed the business to keep the power and Wi-Fi on and pay rent to The Grand for three months.
After that, she said, she and The Grand Executive Director Nick Turner “figured it out” as they went. Sugar Mags Central will open in August in the former J&B Atlantic Building. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY ANNE BERLEANT Perhaps more importantly, the fundraiser also showed Bowden that “it wasn’t just me loving [the store]” while the pandemic made it obvious “that people just needed a safe place to be together.” “No one needed anything fancy, just a place to be together,”
she said. Bowden calls the 3,800 square feet that will be Sugar Mag Central’s new home “a transformational space” in the sense that it will become what the community needs “as it happens.” It will also be available to rent for birthday parties. And Bowden was quick to note that the new store will value adults as much as children, which makes sense since men over 65 are her biggest customers. “We’re building the space for adults to bring their children, not for children to bring adults,” Bowden said. “Grammy will feel comfortable there.” Sugar Mags continues its hours across Main Street as work on the new store is underway.