An iconic downtown business where people come from far and wide to channel their inner child is up for sale.
Candy Bouquet owners Kathie Fisher and Gisele Sinclair have owned the specialty store at 12 Perron Street for nearly 20 years, when they took over after its first owner sold the store in 2000. They have decided it is time to hand the keys over to someone new.
“It’s still sinking in for both of us. It’s kind of sad,” Fisher said. “We’re hoping we can sell, like we’re not planning to shut down. Both Giselle and I would like to retire, but we’ll keep it going for awhile longer.”
For over two decades the candy shop has been part of many St. Albert and area residents’ downtown shopping routine, Fisher said, the lure of the wide range of candy from the U.K. also attracted customers from Westlock, Grand Cache, and as far as Ontario.
For many customers, stopping in at Candy Bouquet is a part of their route before or after stopping off at the library. Or older kids make it an occasion to bike from home and pop into their favourite sweet shop.
Fisher said one customer had been coming regularly to the store for almost the 20 to pick up a little taste of home. The Scottish man would come in every Saturday at the same time to get his Irn-Bru, a bright orange carbonated drink often described as the national drink of Scotland.
Now, due to mobility issues, he has his Irn-Bru delivered to his home using Candy Bouquet’s delivery service.
“For us it's when adults get excited and they come in and see the British candy or for Canadians it's nostalgic candy, and that happens regularly,” she said.
Some favourite products Candy Bouquet customers have consistently purchased are British bonbons and cola rola balls, and Fisher said floral gums go by the pound.
The specialty store has played a role in countless birthday parties through its delivery bouquet service, and Fisher said candy has been a favourite for hospital visits, when traditional flower bouquets are not allowed.
Over the years Candy Bouquet has been challenged by the introduction of big box stores in St. Albert, Fisher said, but the key to success was specialization.
She noted with disappointment, however, customers would brazenly speak out of one side of their mouth about how cheap they could get some of the goods elsewhere, and out of the other side lament about supporting local business.
“If you want to keep the small downtown feel you have to support local business,” Fisher said.
One Candy Bouquet employee, who has been working at the store for 10 years, said the shop is part of the fabric of downtown St. Albert.
“It’s a great place for people young and old to really be young again. We have lots of people who come in and, like the kids, get super excited,” said Amandine Reid. “Sometimes even more so than the kids.”