When Jessica Landzberg, one of four owners of the new Beary Sweet Shoppe on the South 40, used to visit her older sisters at the University of Rochester, her first stop was always the school’s on-campus candy store. This was the inspiration for Beary Sweet Shoppe, which was developed and launched by Landzberg and three other women also in her entrepreneurship scholarship program, Mary-Brent Brown, Shea Gouldd and Kailey Dreyfus. Working through the Washington University Student Entrepreneurial Program (STeP) under the direction of Mary Zabriskie, the Assistant Director of Campus Life, the four ladies drafted the business plan starting in February of last year. All of their hard work came to sweet fruition when the store opened on the first day of this semester, January 12th.
Last week, Brown, Director of Marketing and Communication, gave Spoon the inside scoop on everything sugary and sweet in the store. She and her co-owners ordered over 1,000 pounds of candy from Albanese Confectionary for opening week.
“We actually got our own full truck of candy,” said Brown. “Albanese has a really big catalog, so we tried to be specific in our choices based on what we thought students would want. Peach rings were a definite must.”
Besides the usual sour string and peach rings, highlights from the candy section include wax bottles, candy corn and even gummy bears specifically in Wash U colors.
To begin covering the costs of the store, the owners raised $14,000 on kickstarter, surpassing their goal of $7,000 and wowing their supporters in Residential Life and Campus Dining. The shoppe is already attracting a lot of attention, with over 100 students in the store every day last week. The fact that the store has already had to do a reorder of sour gummy worms, peach rings and sour patch watermelons speaks to its growing popularity and the specific candy niche it fills for residents on the 40.
Beary Sweet Shoppe definitely knows its costumers, proven by the “it’s a girl!” lollipops and chocolates in the store, which will appeal to sororities during big/little week. The candy store is also working on hosting sorority-specific nights where women can buy pre-packaged candies according to their own sororities’ colors.
Although under normal circumstances, sampling is not allowed, I was able to try a couple types of candies and chocolates sold in the store for editorial purposes. The peanut butter meltaways, one of the store’s most popular sellers, definitely lived up to their name, literally melting in my mouth. The peanut butter and chocolate combination, a universal favorite, was creamier than a Reeses and just as delicious.
The store also offers more conventional candies like sour patch kids, chocolate pretzel balls and muddy bears (my personal favorite). In addition, the store sells dried fruits, nuts and pretzels. These choices seemed something of an oddity at a sweet shoppe, but according to Brown, people enjoy having the option to make trail mixes and combine sweet and salty items for a perfectly satisfying mix.
The candy costs 57 cents per ounce, which is $9.12 per pound. This is significantly less than the average $13-$16 per pound in candy stores in airports and malls.
Last Friday, the owners hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to tell their full story to their friends and supporters and offer their thanks for assisting them in the journey to opening the store.
Dreyfus said during the ceremony, “It’s just been amazing to see students, faculty and staff come in with big smiles on their faces, really just so excited like that kid in a candy store. The positive comments we’ve received have really been great, whether it be about the idea or us as businesswomen or the decorations.”
Beary Sweet Shoppe is located at the Gregg storefronts and is open from 4:15 to 10:15 Sunday through Thursday.
You can also follow them on Instagram: @BearySweetShoppe.