Although the bubblegum machine is still half-full behind the front door at Not Just Nuts, 6538 W. North Ave., the shelves are bare of the copious sweets they once contained.
It's been nearly three months since the business owner, Gary Garski, passed away. Building owner Edward Kwaterski said the business will not go on. He said Garski's family is cleaning out the place and he is looking for a new tenant.
Garski, 55, was a resident of Brookfield.
Garski sold nuts, candy and other snacks at his store for more than 25 years, long before Kwaterski bought the building.
"It was an icon in the community," Kwaterski said.
Robyn Vining, who has a photography studio down the street, and lives around the corner, said Garski and Not Just Nuts were staples of life in East Tosa. Days before he died, she said he told some neighborhood kids they could set up a lemonade stand outside his store.
"There's a whole neighborhood full of kids who would get their candy there on special occasions," Vining said.
His happy customers weren't limited to the neighborhood.
One Yelp reviewer from Indianapolis called the store "fanciful" and filled with "whimsy."
"From the minute you walk in the store you believe a place like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory exists as well as Mr. Wonka himself," the reviewer wrote. "The gentleman who owns Not Just Nuts has dedicated his life to bringing smiles to others."
Kwaterski said it is possible the next tenant will operate a similar business, but under a different name and ownership.
Alderman Joel Tilleson, whose district includes the property, said he has also heard from several people interested in renting or buying the space.
"A lot of families enjoyed taking their kids in to see him so we're very saddened by his passing," Tilleson said of Garski. "I'm sure he would be happy to see the district is continuing on with the great life he helped breathe into it."
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