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Anyone who’s ever watched Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory has probably daydreamed about owning their own candy store. What a wonderful way to spend your day - bringing smiles to people’s faces as they pick out their favorite treats. There are no rules regarding the selection of products you can sell or how your business is designed. It’s all up to your imagination. And with the candy manufacturing industry generating $20 billion annually, many entrepreneurs have found “sweet” success.
Who is this business right for?
Individuals who are passionate about becoming confectioners or chocolatiers and enjoy sharing their decadent creations with others would be an ideal fit for this business venture. With so many specialty candy options available, long-term success is reliant on your ability to determine what sweet treats are valued most in your community and creating a business plan around those desires.
What happens during a typical day at a candy store?
As owner of a candy store, most days you’ll be involved in the following activities:
- Maintaining inventory supply and placing orders
- Building positive relationships with vendor representatives, your staff, neighboring businesses, and customers
- Cooking and packaging candy/chocolates
- Restocking shelves
- Managing the staff
- Building a marketing strategy
- Maintaining accurate accounting records
- Researching new industry opportunities and trends
Your exact duties will vary, depending upon how your business is structured. Will you make the candy in-house or purchase from suppliers? Will the candy be available in bulk or prepackaged in smaller containers? Do you plan to specialize in one area, or will your customers have access to a variety of different treats?
Once you’ve built a team you can count on, your employees will care for many of the day-to-day activities. Your focus can then shift towards managing your workforce and promoting and expanding your candy store.
What is the target market?
There are few people who don’t enjoy a sweet treat on occasion. Even if your vision is for a specialty candy store, try to offer a variety of options that will appeal to each demographic.
How does a candy store make money?
Candy store customers visit the store and select items for purchase. The store takes a profit off each sale. Some candy stores partner with other small, local businesses who wish to maintain an inventory of the candy shop’s treats. This is a mutually beneficial relationship and is an effective way to network with other entrepreneurs in the community.
What is the growth potential for a candy store?
The larger candy manufacturers have an advantage over smaller businesses, making the industry quite competitive. Successful candy store owners suggest a well thought-out business plan before entering the business. Thorough research, regarding the need for your product in an area, your target marketing audience, and future growth plans will help drive your business’ success. Start small and take the time to understand your clients' most burning desires. By catering to these needs, your business has the potential to grow into a booming business. Stores such as Peterbrooke Chocolatiers have realized great success through their knowledge of the industry and, as a result, are offering franchise opportunities across the U.S.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful candy store?
Like any successful entrepreneur, you should be business-minded and competitive, with a strong work ethic. Since you’ll be interacting with clients and managing your staff, strong interpersonal skills and a knack for listening is beneficial. This will help you identify what’s working and what’s not, within your business, so you can adjust accordingly. There will be many moving parts to the business, so strong management skills and the ability to delegate are critical to your survival. Retail management experience, along with physical stamina, organizational, and decision-making skills are also beneficial.
A candy store’s success is defined by the quality and taste of the products you serve. If homemade candy is your vision, you should be creative and well-versed, regarding what spices and foods complement each other.
The National Confectioners Association offers members information regarding the latest industry trends, advice on how to grow your business, as well as data and consumer insights. The Professional Manufacturing Confectioners Association offers courses to further perfect your candy-making skills.
What are the costs involved in opening a candy store?
Once you’ve mapped out a business plan, you’ll have a better understanding of what type of building best meets your needs. Some confectioners have a separate facility for making their tasty treats, while others house everything in one location. The location of your storefront is critical to the success of your business. Take your time and select a space that’s easily accessible, has ample parking, and a good amount of foot traffic.
After choosing a location, you’ll be armed with the information needed to make your initial investments. Your needs will vary depending upon the specifics of your candy store. A few items you’ll need are:
- Confectioners equipment - specifics are defined by what type of candy you’re making. Many items can be purchased used for a fraction of the cost.
- Bulk candy display cases (if this is part of your business plan)
- Packaging for your candy - this should represent your brand and the name should be prominently displayed
- Display cases and shelves
- Cash register, credit card machine, and management software
Candy stores are supposed to be magical and exciting. Be sure to budget for proper design and decoration of the facility. The ambiance will not only lure customers in, it will keep them coming back. If interior design isn’t your forte, consider hiring an interior designer to assist you. First impressions mean everything. Before opening your doors, fulfill your staffing needs and train them properly. Consider it an investment in your business goals.
Read our candy store purchasing guide to learn about the materials and equipment you'll need to start a candy store, how much to budget, and where to make purchases.
What are the steps to start a candy store?
Once you're ready to start your candy store, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your candy store is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your candy store keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
How to promote & market a candy store
When creating your marketing strategy, consider the products you offer. Is there a specific target market that comes to mind when you ponder the benefits of your candy? If so, aim for that niche. Learn everything you can about them. Are there any untapped opportunities you should consider in expansion? How can you best convey the message that your product stands out above the competition? What marketing techniques most appeal to them and what do they dislike?
Your marketing strategies should be diverse, reaching your audience with a clear message. Advertisements in community newsletters are an effective way of reaching locals, particularly when a coupon is included. Be sure you’re listed in all the search engine business directories, and create an account with Yelp. Ask customers to post a review of their visit and listen when they provide feedback. As with any small business, a social media presence is a simple (and free) way to reach out to consumers and share special events and sales.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Word of mouth is often a business’ most powerful marketing tool. Ensure you attract repeat customers by delivering a consistently quality product every time. Staff your candy store with outgoing and energetic employees and express your mission and goals for the business.
The candy industry is seasonal, with sales dropping off during the summer months. June is National Candy Month. In fact, each month has at least two national holidays centered around candy. Use these as an opportunity to plan fun events. Invite consumers to attend for a sampling of tasty treats, special sales, and a chance to win special prizes. Build excitement leading up to the event by promoting it in the weeks leading up.
Due to the wholesale manufacturing competition, online sales are competitive. To properly serve all your customers, maintaining a website is suggested. Do not, however, expect record sales, as most candy shop owners report minimal sales.
How and when to build a team
Building your team early on is recommended. If you’re manufacturing your own candy, employ your kitchen staff as soon as your kitchen is ready. Consistency will help ensure customers visit again.
Before you open your doors to the public, hire and train your front of the house staff. Many employ high school and college students for these positions, as they demand less compensation. Remember, your staff is a direct representation of your brand - take your time and hire wisely.
Read our candy store hiring guide to learn about the different roles a candy store typically fills, how much to budget for employee salaries, and how to build your team exactly how you want it.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Establishments that prepare/sell food are randomly inspected by the local health department on a regular basis. These inspections will check for compliance with local health laws, typically related to prevention of food contamination.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Candy Store businesses may also wish to look into applying for a resale certificate, which allows retailers to purchase goods intended for resale without paying sales tax.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
In order to play music in a business setting, permission must be acquired from the composer or license holder. Typically, it is possible to obtain a “blanket” license allowing a businesses to play music owned by a large catalog of artists and recording studios. Such licenses can be obtained from Performance Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP or BMI.
Certificate of Occupancy
A candy store is generally run out of a small retail location. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a retail location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a Candy Store.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build your candy shop:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for you business’ location to ensure your candy store business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
How much can you charge customers?
Prices vary depending upon the product and packaging size. A bar of chocolate could retail for $4.50, while you might charge $55 for a larger box of candy. Prices should be set based on cost, labor, and competitor pricing.
What are the ongoing expenses for a candy store?
Ongoing expenses include product and inventory costs, rent, electricity, and insurance. Labor and payroll taxes will prove to be your largest monthly expense. You’ll also need to dedicate a portion of your budget to marketing campaigns, which help ensure your continued presence within the community.
How much profit can a candy store make?
The average American consumes, on average, almost 24 pounds of candy annually, with no signs of slowing down. Candy shops earn a profit based on revenue generated, minus all overhead and labor costs. Averages vary depending upon geographical location and your specific business model.
How can you make your business more profitable?
There are a number of tactics candy shop entrepreneurs can introduce to yield higher earnings:
- Offer candy gift baskets, both for pickup and delivery
- Accept custom orders for consumers hosting special events
- When looking to build supplier relationships, turn to small, local candy makers. This builds professional relationships within the community and creates a positive image amongst consumers
- Offer seasonal treats for the holidays
- Sell ice cream and/or frozen yogurt, particularly during the off-season months
- Host birthday parties and private events. Candy buffets for weddings and graduation parties have gained popularity over the last decade
- Invite children into your manufacturing facility for field trips
- Host candy-making classes
- Sell wholesale to local grocers, restaurants, and specialty food stores