By JOHN T. WARD
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.