A sweet ending

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— Carol Ginsberg estimates she has an inventory of nearly 10,000 T-shirts and a September deadline to get rid of them.

After 23 years of operating the Sugar Run gift and candy store in Torian Plum Plaza, Ginsberg has decided to call it quits.

"It has evolved into what I think is Steamboat's oldest candy store, with gifts for all ages," she said.

Business has steadily inc--reased through the years, but Ginsberg said it is time to close the store so she can join her husband in retirement. Her liquidation sale began Friday.

T-shirts, stuffed animals, Christmas ornaments, candy, clothing and novelty gifts crowd the store, which can appear a bit cluttered.

"My idea was to always make it look full," Ginsberg said. "It still does, even today, even though I knew this would be my last winter."

She has made and sold 16 kinds of fudge since the store opened. It might be the only store in Steamboat where you can buy a yard-long piece of bubble gum and a souvenir can of melted snow from the Rocky Mountains. She has participated in some of the big retail trends -- she started selling Beanie Babies in the early 1990s and sold quite a few electronic virtual pets along the way.

About 90 percent of her merchandise says Steamboat on it, Ginsberg estimates.

"If they made it, and I thought it would sell and it had Steam--boat on it, I would buy it," she said.

She and her husband, Sol, were two hippies in a van who, after visiting Steamboat in 1973, decided to make the ski town their home, Ginsberg said.

Her husband opened the Art Quest gallery in Ski Time Square, which he later moved downtown and closed in 2001. Ginsberg became one of the original Torian Plum tenants in 1983, and she purchased the retail space six years later. Commercial space at the plaza was going for about $100,000 back then, she said.

In addition to being a small business owner with a ski-in, ski-out location, she also inherited the task of supplying information to tourists. That is one of her favorite parts of the job, she said.

"I tell them where to eat, where to sightsee, where to take their kids," she said.

She said she will miss her longtime customers the most.

"They came in with their parents, and now they're bringing their children in," Ginsberg said.

Although Ginsberg is closing the store, she said there are no plans to sell the property. She plans to lease the space, and some potential tenants have expressed interest.

SV Timbers LLC has submitted a development application to convert the space into a temporary real estate sales office.

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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