Category Archives: business opportunity

Self-Service Bulk Candy Retail Offers Exciting Business Opportunities

After Petersen opened Sweetique’s 530 sq. ft. self-service bulk candy store at Rockaway Townsquare Mall in Rockaway, NJ, the reception by customers and by the mall’s owners, Corporate Property Investors, was enthusiastic. It became clear very quickly that not only a new business opportunity had been developed but, more importantly, that a whole new niche market had been created out of the blue.

Sweetique’s type of in-your-face had not existed before and the customers were literally overwhelmed by a great variety and choice of products, popular and nostalgic, that triggered their impulse to spend discretionary, and often beyond discretionary, monies.

The colorful candy, novelty and gift displays that were presented under bright lights and surrounded by foot-stumping Oldies music created a must-buy atmosphere and enticement that the customers seemed to have some difficult to avoid once near the store or to control once he/she had stepped inside. The candy retail business had literally been revolutionized.

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The Americanization Of Popular Candy Retail

In order to successfully Americanize the innovative idea of modern candy and confectionery retail, the objective had to be an almost, but not quite, exaggerated variety of candy products, many choices of distinct and exciting candy flavors and experiences, including nostalgic, popular and even exotic hard and novelty candies.

To meet this objective a promising concept had to offer hundreds of different and well assorted self-service products that would succeed on a broad range of  impulses, memories and taste preferences of their potential customers. All of this had to be achieved in commercially justifiable self-service retail environments of in-line stores of not more than 600 to 800 square feet or, in more compact form, in a walk-around self-service kiosk with a 120 to 150 sq. ft. footprint.

Ideally, the breakdown of product mix would be approx. 50% wrapped and unwrapped bulk candies, both of these products producing the lion share of margins among the entire mix, 40% novelty candies because of their unbeatable popularity among younger buyers, plus 10% more upscale gifts for adults and special occasions.

Seasonal and visual merchandising changes would be made relatively frequently, first, to give the customers new choices of products and, second but equally important, to spontaneously create newly exciting retail atmospheres and invitations for the potential passer-by to stop, take a closer look and indulge him- or herself.

Candy retail history had demonstrated that lack of creative changes and samplings of product offerings and persistent enhancements of visual displays resulted in consumers’ perception of “wasting, stale and redundant” candies, which, in turn, did not offer sufficient incentive for a consumer to browse and spend his / her money. As a consequence of the traditional full service retail approach at arm’s length, only well known and the most basic and common candies in a limited selection sold without markedly increasing retail revenues and profits over a period of many lost decades. The Candico Theater would change all this dramatically and in a very, very short time span.

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“Take Common Candy And Make It Uncommon!”

  • The realization of this paraphrased quote from John D. Rockefeller’s words, “Take Something Common and make it Uncommon!”, presented a once-in-a-life creative window of opportunity when Petersen began to build on his observations at that fateful time in Hamburg, Germany.The quote represents the essence of Petersen’s visionary candy retail concept and a newly invented and powerful niche business was being developed and started soon.
  • Hard candies, soft gummies and candy novelties had been retailing for decades with a low profile and restrained image, mostly with full service from behind cash counters at an obscure distance from the customer. This undefined product presentation and the lack of immediate visibility of, and access to, the candy products, more so in America than in Europe, totally missed what we refer to today as an “in-your-face” presentation that prompts consumers to impulse purchases and to repeat visits to their favorite source of candy and confectionery.
  • During two years of observation and research of the candy retail industry Petersen realized that the potential of the mini-candy-store concept in Hamburg could be vastly improved by injecting some basic but crucial conceptual and operational ingredients for the American marketplace. These included, above all, self-service pick & mix retail from a large variety of bulk, novelty, gift and seasonal candies and confectioneries, a high margin single price policy at 1/4 pound for all bulk candies, proprietary and hygienic self-service retail fixtures, plus upbeat store design and interactive environment in popular and high-traffic locations.

Be Unique. Read Sweetique!