From 3:05 pm to closing time it’s rush hour at the new candy shop Sweet Teez on Larchmont Avenue, as the after-school crowd comes bursting through the door attracted by dazzling displays of their favorite treats.
“I love that it’s very bright and colorful,” says Chloe Spingler, 8, darting from bin to bin to mix Smarties, Tootsie Rolls and peanut butter M&Ms. “It’s just a great new store to have around.”
Ajed Zimet, a nine-year-old Chatsworth Elementary School attendee concurs, “It’ s really classy and really nice. It has, like, everything.” Meanwhile, in the rear of the store, fifth-grader Nicholas Brown takes on a challenge and swallows a mouthful of super-sour Toxic Waste. With puckered cheeks he rasps, “It’s not so sour at all.”
Sweet Teez is the brainchild of Larchmont residents Maria Garzona and Renata Donaghy, each a married mother of two who met and became friends thirteen years ago when their children were in nursery school.
“We always knew we wanted to go into business together,” says Ms. Donaghy, “and while we’re both creative, we have skills that complement each other. Maria brings phenomenal marketing know-how and I add a finance background.”
Ms. Donaghy, a Yonkers native, was at Merrill Lynch for six years as an assistant to investment managers and worked at Polo’s home division in corporate creative services. Ms. Garzona left Cleveland to study business and fashion retailing and merchandising at Texas Christian University, then moved to New York and worked at Xerox for 22 years in sales, training and marketing.
Home Sweet Home
“Our thought was always to start a neighborhood business,” says Ms. Donaghy. They contemplated restaurants. (“We’d create menus down to every detail,” Ms. Garzona remembers.) But over time, their ideas shifted to a candy store.
The location they chose may have been destined for candy: the adjoining storefront, now part of Carpet Fair, was once a toy and penny-candy store.
Candies Old-Fashioned and New
Their candy selection is aimed at both the nostalgic and the gourmet. A wall of gravity bins contain M&Ms, hard candies, taffies, and chocolates priced by weight: $10.80 per pound, with a 4 ounce minimum that’s usually under $3. A center station dispenses a wheel of 12 flavors of Pucker Powder — a new version of Pixie Stix. At the counter, ice cream, $3.75, is served in a made-to-order waffle cone. For easy math, every price includes tax.
For the Kid in You
Inside an armoire is “everything nostalgic,” such as Necco, $1.75, and Sifer’s Valomilk $2.25. “We’ll search out any candy a customer wants,” vows Ms. Garzona. Gourmet sweets include chocolate crunch, $13, pumpkin pretzels, $13, and Fondue au Chocolate, $20.
The store’s design – upbeat and brightly colored – began with the taffy-ish Italian lighting that Ms. Garzona spotted in a Cleveland art gallery. “Everything came from that.”
Next, the duo worked with a brand identity designer to develop theme and vision that combine ““new and retro” in a mix of blue, lime and orange. A jazzy “candy” circle logo in the window blends with the old-world, original pressed tin ceiling.
All the preparation is long-sighted: the owners have plans to open more Sweet Teez in Connecticut and the Midwest.
Pulling in the Town
“We want to support our community,” says Ms. Donaghy. Working with Larchmont businesses, Sweet Teez features lotion and perfume blended by Szent & Company, and hand made bracelets from Shenier Design jewelry store. In the plans is support for the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Food Pantry through a portion of special product sales.
Sweet Teez: A Candy Shoppe
157 Larchmont Avenue
Monday to Thursday 11:30-6:30
Friday and Saturday 11:30 to 7:30
The Candy’s In the Mail
Ann Wilson fills a Sweet Teez container with daughter Emily’s favorites – gummies and sour patch — that the store will ship to the Colgate sophomore. “We’re candy freaks at my house,” says Ms. Wilson, “and I want to send Emily a little present from home.” Four-year-old Isabella Weiss darts inside from the sidewalk, skims past Ms. Wilson’s legs and makes a beeline to the pink M&Ms, announcing, “Mommy, I’m over here!”
Ms. Garzona fills a bag with the pink sweets and says her favorite is “how much fun everybody’s having.”
Katherine Ann Samon is a Larchmont Gazette business editor, and author of Ranch House Style (Clarkson Potter). Send your business news to BizEditor@larchmontgazette.com