After 28 years in the Home Hardware business, Robin Burnette has hung up his tools in favour of a sweet tooth.
Burnette recently sold Logan’s Home Hardware in downtown Chilliwack to Jeff Fortin, who owns Fortin’s and the Home Hardware outlet in Sardis.
For 28 years Burnette has either worked for head office or owned a retail outlet. It wasn’t easy walking away.
“I’ve been with it for a long time; it was painful to let go,” he said.
But with the influx of big box stores in Chilliwack, “crippling the downtown,” and watching his profits steadily decline, Burnette felt it was time for a change.
His side project, Sticky’s Candy, became that change.
Since opening the first Sticky’s in downtown Chilliwack, with partner Frank Efremjan, in 2011, the business has exploded like a pack of Pop Rocks in your mouth. They now own three shops in the Fraser Valley, have franchised five more stores since February of this year, and are projecting to have 20 by next fall, making them the largest independent candy chain in Canada.
Burnette doesn’t see that success crashing.
For a year and a half, prior to opening their first shop, the business partners researched candy to the nth degree. They travelled all over the U.S., visited over 100 different candy stores, attended the largest candy expo in Chicago, all the while building relationships with suppliers and other such candy mongers.
They built their shop with retro candy in mind, not wanting to compete with big business.
“We’ve hit a niche market,” he said. “Everybody has $5 to spend, and it’s a feel good atmosphere to bring your children in and show them the kinds of candy you ate as a child.”
Old sugary favourites – candy corn, Hot Lips, Fun Dip, Blow-Pop suckers, Pez dispensers, sour Warheads, and more – fill the shop’s shelves. There’s 91 different sodas, nearly 80 different chocolate bars from the United States and the UK, and blissful nostalgia in every nook and cranny you look.
“We’ve hit an age group from the 1940s up,” Burnette said.
“Our first store in Chilliwack quickly outpaced our expectations, so we decided to open another one in Langley, and then another in Maple Ridge. It wasn’t long after that people started asking to buy our business.”
They weren’t willing to sell, but they were open to franchising.
Since becoming a franchise in February, the business has attracted an impressive self-employed crowd – young adults, mostly in their 30s and 40s, wanting to work for themselves.
Now, the owners have their sights set on total candy domination.
“I’d like to see close to 100 stores in Canada,” said Burnette. “We’ve got to go hard. We’ve got to make sure no one comes against us.
“That’s what we’re doing.”
In Chilliwack, Sticky’s Candy is located on Wellington Ave. and Garrison Crossing.