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After Lightning (literally) Struck, The Lolly Bug Came Back Sweeter Than Ever

After Lightning (literally) Struck, The Lolly Bug Came Back Sweeter Than Ever

It was a freak accident. Lightning had struck the beloved and iconic sweet shop The Lolly Bug in Little Hartley. The fire led to the store being shut down as owner Sharon Tolfer began the long process of rebuilding. It all happened just after two years of pandemic lockdowns and devastating summer bushfires that swept through the Blue Mountains mere months before that. 

Chin up, this isn’t a tragedy. This is a story of triumph. 

As she overcame waves of adversity, Sharon not only rebuilt her flagship store, but has expanded The Lolly Bug to new locations. Now, business is booming. 

Goodbye cafe, hello lolly store

Sharon founded The Lolly Bug with her daughter Chloe. Sharon was originally running a cafe, but found managing the business was not in line with her lifestyle. She wanted something less intense–so what’s more chill than an old-fashioned lolly store?

“There was a cafe here and we were running a cafe which had a full-on breakfast and lunch menu. I was like,

‘That’s not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life!’.

“It was way too much work. So we started off with putting in a few lollies. I think we started off with about 100.”

“And then we just kept expanding and expanding till we got to the stage where I said to my husband, ‘I think if we go really big then we could probably close down the cafe side altogether’. And he supported me in that.” 

“Once we took that risk it really took off and we closed down the cafe. Now we’ve got over probably 2,000 lines (of product).”

An icon steeped in family history

With the cafe in her rear-view mirror, a classic lolly store was the perfect new business for Sharon to set up in a historic building. 

I was thinking of an old-fashioned lolly store. The building we’re in here dates back to the 1800s. It’s been here forever and it’s been a number of things over the years, but it lent itself to being an old-fashioned lolly store.” 

Situated off the main highway connecting Sydney to the picturesque Blue Mountains, The Lolly Bug’s flagship store is situated in the perfect spot to draw in plenty of hungry travelers in need of a sugar fix. It’s hard to miss, given the bright yellow VW Bug out front of the store. Soon, each store would sport its own VW Bug. 

“The yellow bugs are a huge real card for us.

That started way back, when we were teaching our kids to drive, we had an old VW. Once they learned to drive it had run out of rego and it was just sitting on the farm. We just came up with the idea one day; ‘Oh, look, let’s paint that with the logo and bring it up here’ Way back then it wouldn’t even run. We used to have to tow it around every single morning!” 

Overcoming bushfires, lockdowns and lightning

Business began to boom, with the Lolly Bug becoming a local icon to locals and travelers alike. However, Sharon soon faced a marathon of challenges in the span of three years. The deadly Black Summer bushfires swept through the Blue Mountains in 2019, followed by lockdowns a few months later in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

It’s a rough combo that many retailers had to endure, but things went from bad to worse when lightning struck the store in Little Hartley resulted in a fire, burning down the historic building. 

A lightning strike hit the building and we were closed for 12 months as a result. So we’ve had to rebuild, but we’ve been very careful to rebuild in that same style which has that old-fashioned feel to it.” 

“My family goes back six generations in this area. We had sold part of our farm but, when we found it was being demolished my brother said,

“Would you like to use the timbers that dad had tucked away years and years ago?”

“It’s lovely using that with the rebuild. Our son is a draftsman, so he did all the design. My husband and other son are builders, so they did all the building. So it’s definitely very much a family business all up.

Over the course of a year, the family built the foundation of their future with the heirlooms of their past. 

Despite everything, The Lolly Bug experienced an outpouring of love and support from their community. 

“We’ve had so much support; so much media support and public support. And it was a hard time because we’d made the decision just before the fire started to open another store up in Nelson Bay.” 

Prior to that, we’d had the lockdowns and before that we’d had fires in the area. We’d gone through a good couple of years with a lot of stress. It’s been nearly 12 months since we’ve reopened. It’s quite amazing. Time just flies and it’s been a terrific year. People have been so supportive of us.” 

People are coming back over and over and over again.” 

“At times I think, ‘Well, gee what have we done to gain this respect?’ And because people say ‘You’re our lolly stop, this is where we stop, we come here regularly’. 

The Lolly Bug is elevating their business

It’s been quite a few years for Sharon, her family and her team at The Lolly Bug. Despite all the challenges, they’ve risen to the occasion with courage and determination. 

So let’s raise a glass to the sweeter things in life. 

Read the case study to discover how The Lolly Bug uses Lightspeed’s POS

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