Sweet taste of success as new business takes off

Kai Smith eyes-up some of the goodies. (Pic: George McLuskie)
Kai Smith eyes-up some of the goodies. (Pic: George McLuskie)

When a young couple opened a new sweetie shop and ice cream parlour in Leven two weeks ago, the plan was to do it with little fanfare so they could quietly find their feet.

However, that plan backfired in the best possible way – word-of-mouth and social media rocketed and saw Candy Planet take-off, with sweet-toothed customers travelling from as far as Dunfermline and Dundee and queuing for up to an hour to sample the waffles, ice cream and milkshakes.

“We were completely blown away – we must have had about 1000 customers in our first week and people were queuing out the door,” said proprietor Gavin Reekie (27), of Leven.

“We just wanted a ‘soft’ opening so that we would could take things slowly but it has been non-stop.”

It has meant he and partner Holly Haig (26), of Leslie, and their four staff have had to hit the ground running and deal with problems such as stocks getting low and running out of waffle boxes.

Gavin and Holly were inspired by the sweet shops and ice cream parlours they had seen on visits to the USA and wanted to do their own version.

“We wanted something that was quite distinctive in style, like an old-fashioned sweet shop but with a modern twist,” said Gavin.

The ‘old-fashioned’ angle seems to be adding to the appeal of the shop across the age range, with rows of old-style jars of sweets bringing back fond memories of childhood for older customers who remember buying a quarter of their favourites in a paper poke.

Gavin is also sure the location – Pearson Place, tucked behind the Aldi supermarket – is proving to be a great choice for the shop, surrounded by existing and new housing and just off the main road.

“It’s an up and coming area with a good future ahead of it for development and perfect for the shop as there’s lots of passing trade, as well as for people coming especially for the shop,” he said.

And people have been coming from further afield than Gavin and Holly could have imagined.

“You hear a different accent and discover they’ve come all the way down from Dundee, for example, or Dunfermline because they’ve heard about the shop – it’s amazing,” Gavin said.

It is a first business venture for Holly and Gavin, who was previously in the Royal Navy, hence their intention to take things slowly at first.

But business savvy must run in the family – Gavin’s brother Graeme was the young entrepreneur behind, first, the Kino Cinema in Glenrothes and who last year rescued the former Regent Community Cinema in Leven two years ago to create a second Kino.