- Associated Press - Sunday, June 24, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Bob Benham never finished his cup of Sumatran coffee on March 29, but his business’ future is a little sweeter because of it.

The owner of Balliets had read of the impending closing of another iconic Oklahoma City business, 42nd Street Candy Co., in a copy of the newspaper he had on his desk. It was sad news for the man who owns a clothing retail business that opened in 1936, and despite his years of experience in local retail, Benham had never met 42nd Street Candy Co. owner Teresa Wall.

Wall owned the candy store at NW 42 and Western for the last 18 years of the 39-year-old business. An emotional Wall told The Oklahoman on March 28 of her plans to close the candy store, later saying it was difficult to publicly share what she fought to keep open for so long.

“It’s one thing when you think it, but when you say it, it really becomes a reality,” Wall said. “I battled about what’s going to happen to the kids in Crown Heights and all the kids that walk up to me if the store is not there. What’s it going to mean to our community? I felt a huge burden to keep it going, which is why I did for so long.”

She planned to end her run in the candy business a month after the announcement. Benham planned to finish his coffee that morning.



Neither one happened.

Benham wasn’t the only one in Balliets who read about the closing of 42nd Street Candy Co. that morning. Balliets Sales and Visual Manager Teresa Sanders had seen the article, as well as one of her customers. Both rued the loss of the popular local business, and Sanders had an idea - why not bring 42nd Street Candy Co. to Balliet’s?

“We’re always thinking about what else we could have in the store … if there could be another business that would work with us,” Sanders said.

Sanders and a co-worker went upstairs to Benham’s office to pitch their idea to the boss.

“I said, ‘You need to get over there before somebody else does,’” Sanders said. “I’d read the article and thought it was a good fit for us.”

Sanders argument was enough to convince the businessman. Benham didn’t argue. In fact he didn’t say anything at all.

“He turned around in his chair, got his business card, he got his keys, his phone and walked out,” Sanders said.

Wall was still processing the reality of preparing to close her business, and was not prepared for Benham’s arrival.

“He came in and I was a wreck,” Wall said. “I was in a T-shirt with jeans and my hair pulled back in a ponytail, we were moving displays and I had been crying. It was pretty emotional.”

Benham pitched a simple idea of bringing the candy store to Balliets.

“I said, ‘We’ve got room for you.’” Benham said. “‘Let’s put it all together, you don’t have to close, you can come to Balliets and carry on.’”

Wall didn’t initially accept, saying she needed time to figure out what she wanted to do.

“He goes, ‘No worries, here’s my email address, just email when you’re ready to visit,’” Wall said.

___

Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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