BY KRISTIN MILANI
Candy Candy Candy! It’s not just an expression of excitement for a sugar fix, but also a unique candy shop in downtown Kitchener.
The store, the brainchild of Dave and Sharon Watson, sits snug on the corner of Charles and Queen streets. It’s impossible to miss its vibrant colours that can be seen from a mile away.
This blast from the past candy shop is fun for all ages. Its retro theme brings back memories for the baby boomers and introduces today’s kids to candy that has stood the test of time. The store has the classics including Gold Mine gum, Mini Maple Cones, Sugar Daddy chocolate, Necco Candy Buttons, Charleston Chew bars, Popeye candy sticks and more.
Not only is the candy retro, the entire store is packed full of decor and merchandise that takes you all the way back to the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. The second you walk in the door, the tropic blue and palace purple-coloured walls lift your mood faster than you can say candy. Shiny fuchsia vinyl records, artwork done by Sharon, retro CD cases, and candy logos decorate the bright panelled walls.
Stephen Ciokan from the Games Exchange store, across the street from Candy Candy Candy, is a regular customer. He said he likes that Dave and Sharon take risks that a lot of other people don’t. Ciokan often finds candy he didn’t know existed and enjoys taking chances on something new when buying candy at the shop.
“I love the place. It’s definitely unique,” he said.
Dave and Sharon opened the shop on Dec. 8, 2012 and have loved every second since then. To them, it isn’t just a temporary project to grab some cash, it’s a long-term plan. Their life is now Candy Candy Candy. Even after they’ve punched out they are on Google, searching for which retro items to put on the shelves.
Each time new stock arrives, there is at least one product added to the inventory. For Dave and Sharon, it’s their own version of Christmas Day.
Retail work is something that they are both passionate about. They love working with people and find great happiness at the shop because of it. When customers come into the shop, they are excited to see candy that they grew up with.
“You don’t get grumpy customers at a candy store,” Dave said.
Coincidentally, Dave and Sharon met in a candy store Dave worked at over a decade ago. Sharon was running some errands and had a craving for licorice. She walked into the store and saw Dave behind the counter with spiked fluorescent green hair. Weeks later, he was at one of Sharon’s art shows. His aunt just so happened to be her friend and co-worker at the studio. They got married in 2002 and later had two children.
Although this isn’t their first business, Dave and Sharon still view Candy Candy Candy as a whole new chapter in their lives. They previously owned a comic book store when they were living in Toronto. Dave ran the customer service side while Sharon took care of the bookkeeping.
Dave said he loved working with people and being in a comic book environment. He also knew the history behind comic books, as they were and still are a huge interest of his.
“I’m a bit of a nerd,” he said laughing.
However, he acknowledges the difficulty that came with owning the store. He was working almost 12-hour days, seven days a week with a two-hour commute every day despite living in Toronto. Comic book stores were also on the decline. Dave said the only reason people walk into a bookstore these days is for the ambiance.
“We were starting to see a depletion but we got out before it became a problem. We got the good part of it. The concept of bookstores is sort of dying these days. Technology is moving beyond it,” Dave said.
After having the store open for four years, Sharon and Dave decided it was in their best interest to close it and move forward in their lives.
About two years ago, they decided to pack up and leave Toronto. They said they loved living there but it wasn’t working with their lifestyle since they had two young children. They have been in Kitchener ever since and plan on staying put for a long time.
For the time being, Dave and Sharon aren’t looking to franchise as they want to keep the personal touch of the shop intact.
“It’s like a baby and you want it to grow up. You want to see it through all its years. You don’t want to just pass it on,” Sharon said.
Outside of Candy Candy Candy, Dave works part-time at Starbucks as a barista which requires very early mornings on top of his shifts at the candy shop. They also have two young children who are six and eight years old.
One of Sharon’s lifetime loves outside of the shop is artistic photography. She has been taking pictures since she was 12 years old when her grandma gave her money to buy a cartridge camera.
Photography was only a hobby until after graduating high school when she took it to the next level. She went to Ryerson University to transform her hobby into a career. Discovering that she wasn’t interested in commercial photography, she left the university after three years. She then worked at a studio in Toronto and realized it wasn’t the right career.
In his spare time, Dave writes fiction of all different genres. He has had one eBook published and is currently working on another one. He goes by his alter-ego name of Paul Mundane.
“I’m always writing something,” he said.
The eBook is published on major book websites including Amazon and Smash Words and is also available on Kobo tablets.
Before officially opening the doors of Candy Candy Candy, the couple had to do a lot of research and preparation to make the first months go smoothly. Sharon spent time crunching numbers and finding out how much everything would cost. They also had to renovate and clean to get their future store in tip-top shape.
Now that they are settled and the shop is well underway, they can breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t be stuck in careers they don’t love and aren’t passionate about.
BY KRISTIN MILANI