IN FAIR HAVEN, SOMETHING SMALL AND SWEET

Laura Balestro at Lollies, her tiny Fair Haven candy store. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s a bit of a throwback: the kind the of corner confectionery that thrived in postwar America before vanishing under the wheels of chain food and convenience stores.

But with the retro Lollies Candy Co., a tiny shop tucked away on the main drag in Fair Haven, shop owner Lauren Ballestro is making a go at competing with everything from supermarkets to chic chocolatiers.

Ballestro, 42, of Rumson, says she has “a huge sweet tooth” and, despite having had no experience in retail, longed to open a candy shop.

Two years ago, with all three of her children in school, she says asked herself, “what am I waiting for?”

She ended up in a 362-square-foot rectangle, formerly a watchmaker’s shop, set back from River Road in the shadow of two other businesses.

The shop’s location, if not the size, presents a challenge, Ballestro acknowledges.

“Clearly, there are people who don’t know I’m here, and they live here, so that’s a problem,” she said. “I need to get the word out.”

Her business approach, though, is multifacted. It starts with “some stuff you can get anywhere,” such as Hershey’s chocolate, Candy Buttons,¬†Razzles, Pop Rocks, Wax Lips and Bonomo Turkish Taffy, “for the kids who come after school with their lawn-mowing money,” Ballestro said. “It’s really adorable.”

She also stocks small-brand sodas and popcorn in the shop, which features a candy cart in the center of the floor and a wall lined with glass candy dispensers.

But Lollies also sells what Ballestro calls “high-end” product from a “great chocolatier in D.C.,” and last month was getting ready to launch its own label of chocolates produced by a chocolatier in New York.

Ballestro has found some strength, too, in custom gift baskets and party favors for weddings, birthdays and other events.

Today and tomorrow might be a good time for those with a fondness for someone with a sweet tooth to pop in. The store is at 799A River Road, just to the left of Skye Blue and BeTween.