Halloween draws near, and soon adults across America will be schlepping out to big box stores and pharmacies to load up on candy. But Clevelanders need not settle for the same bags of bite-sized Snickers every year. The Greater Cleveland area plays host to a number of locally owned sweets shops that will elevate your trick-or-treat game (or get something for yourself; we won't judge).
The sweets shop model may seem antiquated, but the businesses here are run on more than just novelty and nostalgia.
Rocket Fizz (530 Euclid Ave., 216-505-5225, rocketfizz.com), an independently operated branch of a California store, took over the closed Radio Shack at East 6th and Euclid in the spring of 2015. Owners Susan and Robert Hale have turned this prime real estate into a delightful downtown haven for sweet-heads.
Rocket Fizz's specialty is variety. They have well over 1,000 varieties of candy, from old-fashioned wax lips to exotic products from Europe and Asia. There's even a chocolate-covered bugs section. Don't think it's just for the shock value; according to Susan, people buy them all the time.
The Hales have considered opening a second location in the area, but those plans could be put on hold for a while. On Nov. 7, Susan's name will be on the ballot for mayor of Cuyahoga Falls.
When Elisabeth Sapell began looking for rental space for a candy store, she could hardly find a building that would lease to her. Five years on, All City Candy (746 Richmond Rd., Richmond Hts., 216-487-7070, allcitycandy.com) is thriving in Richmond Heights, and this week marks the opening of their second location in Mentor.
All City's selection includes a solid oldies aisle, five-pound gummy bears and a picturesque selection of hand-dipped chocolates (their wonderfully redundant Cookies-and-Cream-dipped Oreo is a highlight). They offer a candy buffet catering service which will, with its attractively-packaged offerings, add a veneer of class to a room full of adults stuffing their faces with sweets.
Jeff Campbell's father had run a series of popcorn shops in malls across Northeast Ohio. Once those stores were bought out, Campbell decided to give them new life as a stall at the West Side Market. Campbell's Sweets Factory (2084 W. 25th St., 216-965-0451, campbellssweets.com) now offers popcorn, cupcakes, and hand-dipped chocolates, and has added locations in Lakewood, Ohio City and downtown to its portfolio.
There's an environmental component to Campbell's too: the company works with Ohio farmers to supply corn for their business, and has made a Keep Cleveland Sweet pledge to not use GMOs in their products.
We would be remiss not to mention the largest candy store in North America. b.a. Sweetie's (6770 Brookpark Rd., 216-739-2244, sweetiescandy.com) started as a basement candy distributing operation in the 1950s. Today, it's a 40,000-foot warehouse with an attached miniature golf course. Sweetie's recently added an old-timey Soda Shoppe to the premises.
Sweetie's warehouse can be overwhelming, and their mascot is a little creepy. But creepiness and candy are what the season's all about.