The next generation takes over Love Lane Sweet Shoppe in Mattituck

Ashley Rutkowski (left), Jackie Wilsberg and Chelsea Chalone in Love Lane Sweet Shoppe. (Credit: Cyndi Zaweski)

For more than a decade, Jackie Wilsberg has been the warm, familiar face behind the counter at Love Lane Sweet Shoppe in Mattituck. Wilsberg and her husband, Bill, purchased the business in January 2009 with the goal of keeping the longstanding candy and gift shop as charming as it’s been since opening in the 1980s.

Lifelong Mattituck residents, the Wilsbergs often visited Love Lane Sweet Shoppe, which had moved around a couple locations on the street before settling in its current 11,000-square-foot space in 1996. They brought their two daughters to shop for sweet treats and Beanie Babies, developing a relationship with the store’s previous owners throughout the years.

“I always wanted to have a shop,” said Ms. Wilsberg who has a background in interior design. “When the owners approached me about buying the store, I thought it was a great fit. We kept everything that was here. We just added to what was already great.”

Now it’s time to pass the torch again, but Ms. Wilsberg didn’t have to look too far to find Love Lane Sweet Shoppe’s next keepers. She considered having to ask other loyal customers to buy the shop, as she had done, but her daughters, Chelsea Chalone of Mattituck and Ashley Rutkowski of Laurel took their parents up on the offer first. The family started discussing the change of hands around Christmas and made it official May 1.

“It just felt like the right time,” Ms. Wilsberg said. “The girls were ready to take the reigns … and I was ready to step back.”

Both Chalone and Rutkowski know their way around the shop and working with family. Rutkowski has been working alongside her mother at Love Lane Sweet Shoppe since the family purchased the shop and Chalone worked in the store on weekends while also helping to run her father’s Mattituck oil delivery company, Eckhart Oil.

“We work well together,” Chalone said. “The family has put a lot of work into this place and it would have been hard to see it go to another person, even if it was going to our best friends.”

Don’t expect any major overhauls to the design or inventory at Love Lane Sweet Shoppe. The assorted candies, chic décor and hostess gifts will remain at its core, with a few additions here and there. Chalone and Rutkowski, who both have young families, share their parents’ philosophy of keeping operations at the store quaint.

“I remember we used to walk here on our lunch break [from Mattituck High School] to get gum or candy,” Chalone said. “It’s always been great. We have enhanced what we have always had while making room for new things, but everything is great as is.”

Ms. Wilsberg, who is transitioning from boss to part-time worker, said she’ll miss talking to the customers the most.

“The people are all so great,” she said. “Over the years, I have watched peoples’ children grow up and the neighboring business owners are like family. It is a special place.”

Rutkowski, who has a degree in fashion merchandising, agreed the customers are a highlight of the job and one of the reasons the sisters wanted to continue the business.

“We have the best customers,” she said. “They keep us going year-round.”

From their years spent working at the shop, Chalone and Rutkowski have a strong handle on the day-to-day, all while taking solace in knowing help is only a phone call away.

“We can send the SOS out any time,” Chalone said.

Love Lane Sweet Shoppe is located at 125 Love Lane in Mattituck.