Wendy Beach has only owned the English Sweet Shop for six of its 101-year history, but she wells up with tears at the loss of its long-time location at 738 Yates St.
“People come in and they’re bringing their great grandchildren, and they’re like, ‘It’s just the same as I remember it when I was a kid when my grandfather brought me here,” recalls Beach.
Today, the store is empty in preparation of the property’s redevelopment by Concert Properties.
“It was long and narrow … the floor boards were creaky and there was a beautiful mosaic tile,” she says. “I hope to one day recreate it.”
A delayed phone hookup and other snags have delayed the grand opening of the new shop at 736 Douglas St.
Standing amid 600 stacked candy jars and shelving in various stages of construction, Beach acknowledges the new location has its challenges..
Some neighbouring retail properties, adjoining the Victoria Conference Centre, stand empty.
“The terms and conditions of the lease were very favourable,” Beach says, adding that to help drive customer traffic, the City of Victoria plans to relax regulations surrounding signage and logos on store fronts.
Beach, who also owns the British Candy Shoppe, got into the business on a whim after being laid off from the B.C. government.
“It’s my husband and my sweet retirement, that’s what we call it.”
Her favourite sweets, which also happen to be her best seller, are the Bon Bons.
Grocery items, such as Marmite, are popular among expats, and the old timers like the Trebor Extra Strong Mints or the Sherbet Lemons.
“We have so many regular customers,” Beach says. “There are people who come in every day and buy 100 grams of school chalk, or they come in an they buy their mint hum bugs.”