A Sweet Return: Windsor Stores Reopen After Kincade Fire

Local stores like Cravin's Candy Emporium are welcoming customers again.

Windsor boutique owner Marie Esposti-Winter ventured into retail after she lost her Santa Rosa business of 10 years — The Loft Salon at Fountaingrove Village — in the 2017 Tubbs fire. As she watched the news coverage of last month’s Kincade fire, threatening the town of Windsor and her stores at the Town Green and Lakewood Village Shopping Center, she thought to herself: “Maybe I’m not supposed to have a business in wine country.”

Thankfully, the town of Windsor was saved from the flames due to the heroic efforts of firefighters and, on October 30, grateful residents and business owners were able to return after evacuation orders had been lifted.

Esposti-Winter operates her Windsor stores, Hush and Hush Up, in partnership with her daughter, Caitlyn Carpenter, who has a background selling fashion to stylists and celebrities in Beverly Hills. The mother-and-daughter team work with “sustainable and socially conscious vendors” to bring LA fashion to wine country. Both of their stores sustained smoke damage during the Kincade fire — Hush Up is now open for business while Hush will remain closed for for another couple of weeks for damage assessment and cleanup.

A sweet return

Down the road from Hush Up, Cravin’s Candy Emporium on the Windsor Town Green has been a sweet tooth’s dream destination for over 15 years. Vintage board games decorate the walls and the store is densely stocked with new, classic and housemade candy — the air is richly fragrant from the sweet mix.

Store manager Mary Archer, who’s been with Cravin’s for 13 years, exudes a passion for her job and says that everyone — no matter their age — reflects back on their childhood when they visit.

“Even  kids will say, ‘When I was little, I used to eat this candy,'” says Archer, who always finds herself amused by parents who come to the store and tell their kids to “choose just one thing,” and then end up leaving with a bucketful of candy just for themselves.

Archer remains grateful and in good spirits at the time of the store’s reopening. While she had to relocate four times during the fire and the store lost products due to power outages, she puts it all in perspective by recalling a sentiment shared by many locals in late October — also expressed by fire personnel after the fire: “We thought there wasn’t going to be a Windsor.”

Like other local store owners, Archer expresses a love of Windsor — “the people and the community” — and looks forward to upcoming events like the annual lighting of 200 Christmas trees in the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove on the Town Green. She feels confident shoppers will return following the fire.

Heed the call to shop local for fire recovery, by visiting stores on the Windsor Town Green and other parts of Sonoma County.