Sweet Pans Shoppe prepares to close

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A store some call a Rockford staple will only be around for a few more weeks.

25 years ago, Michelle Watson headed to Sweet Pans Shoppe on 11th Street while planning her wedding.

"This was the place you go to pick out your wedding topper. I remember my husband and I trying to find it, and coming here and going through it all," says Watson.

Watson would've never found the perfect topper if Lorraine Wallschlaeger hadn't opened the shop in her basement nearly 50 years ago.

"Doing cake decorating classes and everything. we had all of that over in our house," says Wallschlaeger's daughter, Erica Ainley.

Five years later in 1975 Wallschlaeger opened Sweet Pans Shoppe baking supply on Rockford's southeast side. Catherine Johnson was one of the first customers.

"We were good friends. I miss her a lot already," says Johnson.

Wallschlaeger lost her battle with COPD in January. Ever since, her family has been working hard to keep the doors open. However, they say, it's been a challenge.

"Our little store here is kinda struggling, so we had to make the hard decision to close it down," says Ainley.

Though the doors are closing, customers say they'll never forget the special attention Wallschlaeger would pay to help them find the perfect item.

"Lorraine and her kids have always gone the extra mile to find what I needed: special ingredients for my candies," says Johnson.

"I can understand the girls because it's a lot of work, and they have families, but we'll miss them," says regular customer, Richanne Nicolai.

Sweet Pans Shoppe owners also say that a big reason for their closing is because more people are shopping online than coming in-person to stores.

The shop is having a 50 % off sale for the next few weeks before they close the doors for good. Sweet Pans Shoppe will host a special celebration this Saturday in honor of Wallschlaeger's birthday.