I was struck by the energy, colour and panache of Dylan’s Candy Bar when I first visited them on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan. I believe it is the way candy should be merchandised and sold – in a vibrant, colourful, fun atmosphere that doesn’t take anything very seriously. Chocolate and candy are part of life’s delights (especially for children, although even I am a self-confessed “Chocoholic”) and they are also part of life’s sweet little sins. How many times have children or adults tried to sneak in an extra treat without their parents or spouses knowing?

This should have been the evolution of “sweets” retailing, but alas, I am afraid it is not.

The sweets retailer I am most disappointed in from this perspective is Laura Secord. This almost century old retailer has not yet entered this century, even though they have new ownership and lots of money to do so. It is disappointing to walk by some of the very best real estate in Canada and be uninspired by their merchandising, their assortment and their presentation. They have it all – an exceptional brand name and virtually 100% brand recognition in Canada; a rich, authentic history; the very best real estate; and a quality product. So, why, I ask, does it have to be so boring? Why can’t we be treated to some buzz, some flare, some panache? Can anyone tell me?

Although Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has tried to energize their stores, and they have to a certain extent, it still feels a little dark and serious for me. They rate a mention because they do a better job than Laura Secord, but still have a ways to go in the whimsy department.

Dylan’s Candy Bar is only 6 years old, and granted, it only has 6 stores (not sure why) and it is the brainchild of Ralph and Ricki Lauren’s daughter Dylan. Public relations is not an issue here. But she has the right idea. She has made this concept a destination. Everyone who walks by is compelled to walk in. Isn’t that the essence of merchandising? Isn’t that the goal specialty retail?

I say it isn’t good enough just to have a quality product or a great location. In order to maximize one’s specialty retail business, one has to have a compelling proposition visually and atmospherically. It has to exude energy and vitality. It has to constantly refresh itself (hence the expansion and makeover of the Third Street store recently).

I think Dylan has it right. Where is Laura really going?

TheRetailTherapist 🙂

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