January 23, 2021

Sycamore staple Sweet Earth to close as owners retire after nearly 30 years in business

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SYCAMORE – Rich and Roseann Para, owners of Sweet Earth have decided to retire after 27 years in business.

Sweet Earth, located at 341 W. State St. in Sycamore, has been known for unique jewelry, thousands of charms, gemstone specimens, an extensive gift selection including local souvenirs and jewelry repair and engraving services.

Sweet Earth Jewelry & Flower Market began in 1994 at the corner of State and Maple streets. In 1996, the Paras purchased the Ben Franklin store at 341 W. State St, according to a news release from the owners.

During the economic downturn in 2008, the Paras made the decision to rebrand the business to the original Sweet Earth name, which suited the store’s earthy-but-trendy style.

Sweet Earth also was one of the first local businesses to offer an environmentally-friendly green bag, which allowed customers to receive a discount when using the bag to shop.

“We sold Beanie Babies during that craze, salt lamps, funny socks and we have recently introduced our seasonal holiday lanterns,” Roseann Para said, “We have always tried to keep the store fresh with new, in-demand merchandise.”

Sweet Earth has been an active Sycamore Chamber member and has participated in many Downtown events over the years, including the annual Chocolate Walk, Moonlight Magic and the Taste of Spring event.

Roseann Para said “one of her favorite and proudest moments was the first Streetscape Party.” The Streetscape Party was later known as the Block Party and is now the Ribs, Rhythm and Brews event.

“It was the week after the 9/11 tragedy struck our country,” Roseann Para said. “The entire community came together. Somehow Rich and I were able to procure 200 flags to hand out to customers before the parade. Our state representative even came to the event to assist. It’s good to remember that Sycamore is always there for each other in uncertain times. … Not having our spring and summer events, and finally no Pumpkin Fest was especially hard this year. We didn’t get to say goodbye to so many customers who have become our friends over the years.”

Sweet Earth owners also gave credit to their team, including Store Manager Lori McClay, who's been with Sweet Earth for 22 years and assists in the fine and fashion jewelry department. McClay was already planning to retire at the end of 2020.

Two other long-term Sweet Earth employees, Kathy Sperando and Sue Lederear, also retired earlier in 2020. Sperando assisted in ordering and coordinating products for the gift-side of the store, and Lederear assisted in creating in-store displays, including the holiday displays that Sweet Earth became known for.

Current staff includes the mother-daughter team of Charlene and Jordan Emmons, the former, who's worked with the team for six years, and the later, a graduate of Northern Illinois University who worked on marketing.

The Paras said that the decision to retire did not come lightly, but that they “have hope in the residents of the community to stick together and flourish.”

“When Henderson’s left downtown, when the entire downtown was torn up and rebuilt, when the economy turned in 2001 and 2008, and when the Fargo Hotel closed – all those things were hard, and we survived,” Para said. “As we leave Sycamore, we have no doubt that the Sycamore community and the leadership of the Sycamore Chamber will support whatever new business will fill our space.”

To thank customers for their business and friendship over the years, Sweet Earth will be holding a retirement sale during the next six weeks.

For more information about the store and its closing, visit www.sweetearthjewelry.com.