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Candy stores galore as pair of St. Albert sweet shops open

Dynamite Candy, Candy Lab join Candy Bouquet on local scene

St. Albertans will have no shortage of candy options as two new candy stores have popped up in the city.

Candy Lab, which sells gas station classics as well as a variety of more obscure confections, opened May 10 in St. Albert Centre Mall. It’s the second Candy Lab location. The first opened inside co-owner Carolina Marquez’s car detailing shop in west Edmonton.

“We had a free space, and we love candy,” said co-owner Carolina Marquez.

A manager at St. Albert Centre stopped in for car detailing one day, saw the connected candy store and asked Marquez if she was interested in opening another location at the mall.

“We have quite an expansive selection of inventory, and the main thing that people were really excited about is our freeze-dried candy selection,” Marquez said. Freeze drying candies, such as Skittles, Jolly Ranchers and gummy worms, gives them a unique texture, and the candies don’t cling to the teeth as much as their traditional counterparts.

“I'm most proud of our Japanese candies,” Marquez said. “They're very unique, especially the make-it-yourself kits. They consist of powders, and you add water and you basically form your own little candies that resemble other foods, but of course, they're candy flavoured.”

In the short time since Candy Lab opened in St. Albert Centre, Marquez has noticed many customers have dietary restrictions, so the business is looking to bring in more specialized items, such as gluten- and sugar-free candies.

“We’ve had a lot of excited people coming by and checking out the store,” she said. “So far it seems like the community is responding pretty positively.”

New candy store downtown

Dynamite Candy opens Friday at 9 St. Anne Street. It also entered the candy trade through a second, unrelated store, said Ashley Elsbett, who manages Dynamite Smoke and Vape on Perron Street. 

The store’s owner started selling candy out of the Dynamite vape shop, but health authorities said the store couldn’t stock electronic cigarettes and food in the same place, Elsbett said. The candies had been so popular with customers that the business decided to set up a dedicated candy and snack store nearby.  

“We have a mix of exotic things and lots of brands that are local to Edmonton and Alberta as well,” Elsbett said.

Customers browsing Dynamite’s shelves will find staples like Skittles, Laffy Taffy and Twizzlers, but also stranger items, such as the “toe of satan,” a cayenne-loaded sucker that challenges buyers to time how long they can keep it in their mouths before the heat becomes unbearable, or giant gummies shaped like pizza and donuts.

The goal with Dynamite Candy is to be competitive with Walmart and Costco in pricing, according to Elsbett.

There are eight Dynamite vape stores in the Alberta, and the owner has plans for two new downtown St. Albert stores that will bear the Dynamite name.

“I guess this is just another adventure,” Elsbett said.

A competitive candy landscape

Karen Shermack owns St. Albert’s most established candy store, Candy Bouquet at 12 Perron Street.

It has been in the candy business for 30 years, although Shermack bought the store from its previous owners five years ago.

She was surprised to learn of the new shops, and that another candy store would be opening downtown.

“We have a lot of loyal customers, so I'm hoping that they'll stay with us,” she said. Many of those customers are expats who come in search of UK candies that can’t be found on most Canadian shelves.

Although she hasn’t visited the new candy shops, she feels Candy Bouquet offers a boutique experience, and that its selection of bulk candy, retro candy, and the eponymous candy bouquets make it stand out.

“We have a lot of people coming in here that are looking for specific things that we try to get for them,” she said.

Elsbett doesn’t see there being any competition between the downtown candy stores. They’re offering quite different products. “It’s just friendly competition,” she said.

It’s a sentiment that Marquez shares.

“I think that everybody has a right to take a shot in the business,” Marquez said. “Everybody has a little bit of something different to offer.”

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