Got a sweet tooth? You're not alone. It's estimated that the average American eats a whopping 25 pounds of candy every year. It's not just on candy-eating holidays like Halloween, which accounts for just 4% of candy consumption. Running a candy store is a year-round business with opportunities for independent owners and franchisees.

Identify Your Target Customers

Decide whether you want to attract customers who are willing to spend money on luxury chocolates or would prefer to appeal to kids (and kids at heart) with jars of candy such as jelly beans, gumdrops, jawbreakers and the like. Perhaps you want to specialize in candy favorites from various countries around the world or healthier candy options made with natural and organic ingredients. If you're in a college town, there may be a demand for deliveries of candy care packages.

Knowing who your customers are guides many of your decisions, including where and how to advertise, the kinds of inventory to purchase, and how to decorate your store. Conduct market research by visiting as many candy stores and sweet shops as you can, particularly within an easy driving radius of your planned location.

Make a Business Plan

Before starting any new business, including opening a candy store, you need a written business plan that details aspects such as financing, marketing and organization. Lenders and investors want to see your business plan before they give you any money. Look online for templates for small business plans. Visit a local office of the Small Business Administration; this government agency exists to help entrepreneurs.

Startup Costs

Expect to spend at least $5,000 on starting inventory that includes candy as well as dispensers, scoops, bags, boxes and gift wraps. One-time expenses are signage, display cases and bins. As with any new business, sales may be slow initially as you build your customer base. One of the main reasons many small businesses fail is lack of money. Be sure you have enough capital on hand to cover rent, utilities, wages and other expenses, including emergencies, for several months.

Plan Your Candy Inventory

It may take several months to understand your customer flow and the demand for merchandise.

When stocking candy, keep in mind the typical shelf life of various types of candy:

  • Dark chocolate: 12 months
  • Milk chocolate: 8 to 10 months
  • Hard candy: 9 to 12 months
  • Chewing gums: 6 to 18 months
  • Caramels: 3 weeks at room temperature or up to 6 months frozen
  • Gummies: 6 to 12 months in the refrigerator or freezer

Unique Candy Store Ideas

Boost sales with items that complement candy purchases. For example, in a luxury chocolate shop, you may want to offer gift items such as single long-stemmed roses, stuffed animals, mugs, balloons and greeting cards. For a shop catering to kids, think about novelty candies, T-shirts and small toys. Consider selling other sweet treats such as ice cream and soft drinks, particularly in unique flavors that customers may not be able to find elsewhere.

Candy Store Franchise Opportunities

Opening a candy store franchise location gives you instant name recognition. Many business decisions, such as candy store inventory, decor and marketing, are made for you by industry experts. These companies offer franchising opportunities. Check their websites for more information.

  • Candy Bouquet
  • Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company
  • Fanny May Candies
  • Fuzziwig's Candy Factory
  • Kilwin's Chocolates
  • Oh My Gosh Brigadeiros
  • Powell's Sweet Shoppe
  • River Street Sweets -- Savannah's Candy Kitchen
  • Rocket Fizz
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  • Schakolad Chocolate Factory
  • Sweet Factory