Shannon Dove, co-owner of Hillcrest candy store The Candy Pushers, isn’t a sweets person—but she assures me that digging sugar isn’t a requirement for running a candy shop. What you have to love, she says, is selling candy. “It’s the most amazing thing to see somebody come in and you can tell they’ve had a bad day, and by the time they get their bag of candy and come to the register, they have a smile on their face,” Shannon explains.
Shannon found her passion for vending treats at Hillcrest shop Candy Depot, where she was a sales associate for three years. She departed Candy Depot to launch a mobile candy business with her wife, Melissa Dove, slinging sweets at Pride events and music festivals—then the pandemic struck.
But as stores started to open back up, the Doves received a call from the owners of Candy
Depot, who told them that they’d decided to pivot their careers. “[They said,] ‘Would you be willing to take over a brick-and-mortar?’” Shannon recalls. “I turned to Melissa and I said, ‘Is it absolutely irrational and impulsive right now to just say yes?’”
“I said, ‘F- no,’” Melissa chimes in. “‘This is our dream knocking on the door.’”
The couple became the first LGBTQ owners of the 27-year-old Candy Depot in 2020, eventually renaming it The Candy Pushers and moving to a larger location on University Avenue.
Beyond treating sweet tooths, the couple aims to provide a sober, LGBTQ-friendly space in a bar-heavy gay scene. They host game nights, comedy shows, open mics. “Having something for [LGBTQ youth] to do in Hillcrest is so important,” Shannon says. “They can be around other gay people and see that it’s going to be okay, that there’s a community for them.”