Friday, April 11, 2014

Savory Plus Sweet Is The New Chocolate

For the past year or two we have been seeing many changes in the public's taste and the response to it from the candy industry.
Currently popular is the combination of savory with sweet in all sorts of recipes.  Making a hit in the confectionery world is sea salt, olive oil, chilis, curry....you'd think we were making a salad, but instead we are selling chocolate combined with all these ingredients and more.
Our truffle case is a good example of response to what is popular in the greater world of food.  Not only has Sweet Shop introduced the Sea Salt Caramel truffle which sells out more often than not, but the "cake" series including Wedding Cake, Birthday Cake and Italian Creme Cake are going up the ladder of popularity as well.
I was reading the latest issue of Food Network Magazine when I came across the history of Red Velvet Cake, which by the way is also a very good seller in our truffle case.
The article in Food magazine tell us that in the 1800's light textured, velvety cakes were popular and the Red Velvet cake probably got its name from the brown sugar used in the recipe, which at that time was called "red sugar".
By 1888 the Adams Extract & Spice Company began adding red dye to their cake recipe and Adams claims the title of Red Velvet as their own.
Finally the Waldof Astoria Hotel in NYC served red velvet cake in the 1930's.  The legend says that a customer managed to buy the recipe for $100 and then began distributing the recipe free which caused the cake to become so popular.
Turn to 2014 and we see that not only is the cake still popular but red velvet is now a regular candy item in chocolate bars and in case chocolates.
What we know is that if it sells, its going to be part of what we offer at Sweet Tooth.  Don't turn your nose up at sampling the olive oil and sea salt chocolates either.  They have easily become headliners and there is more to come.
Next week we should have Curried Cashews with chocolate and coconut.  Come by for a sample!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor...

Recently I read something pretty astounding....sales of gum have gone down in the last year.  Can you believe it?  Maybe that is the reason why our jars of large, beautiful and colorful gumballs are just sitting around on the shelves with very little attention.
That could also be the reason why hardly anyone asks us about gumball machines which years ago were the go-to gift for Father's Day. 
For years we have avoided carrying gum which you can regularly find in the grocery store, on the shelves at the drug store or at QuikTrip.  We prided ourselves on carrying unusual gum flavors.  We were especially excited when Black Jack, Beeman's and Clove gum were available to us.  By the way, those flavors are not made every year which is why people searching high and low can't seem to find them.
And now we find out that gum just isn't as popular as it was in the past.
Does that mean no more sitting behind someone who is chewing gum like a cow chews its cud?  Does that mean we will no longer be stepping on a wad of gum on the ground, stuck to the bottom of our shoe?  Or a parent won't find gum stuck in their kid's hair?
How about all the times our parents warned us not to swallow our gum because it would grow in our stomach or not to throw our gum out the car window in case a bird would eat it and explode?
Or how about the warning that chewing gum would give you cavities?  How many of us really liked chewing sugar free gum?
If gum was meant for something other than these things, I just don't know about it.....save one purpose.  People who want to stop smoking often found chewing gum a substitute for inhaling.
Personally, I never really got much pleasure out of chewing gum.  I think my favorite flavor was either Juicy Fruit or Spearmint.  Even so, I could only chew gum for a few minutes....the flavor was gone about 5 minutes into a stick of gum.  Well, I did like Dentyne but I always loved cinnamon.
Remember that little ditty....does your chewing gum lose it's flavor on the bedpost overnight?  My gum lost its flavor right there in my mouth.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

.Draft Beer Jelly Bellys

St. Patrick's Day is a beer holiday.
Every year at Sweet Tooth we are asked what we have for St. Patrick's Day and we have to answer that we really don't have a lot to offer.
That is until this year when we have added Shamrock and Leprechaun Hat cookies from Cookiedoodle.  Of course we have chocolate coins (gold foil covered) and we have green candy.  We have shamrock cellophane bags to put candy in for a nice St. Patrick's Day favor.
And guess what??  Jelly Belly has discovered a way to manufacture Jelly Bellys which taste like Draft Beer!
Beer!!!  At last we can say that we DO have beer for St. Patrick's Day.  It's perfectly legal...no alcohol was used in the production of those Draft Beer Jelly Bellys.
Those beer Jelly Bellys are on their way to our store as I write this email.
I really can't think of anything else to top Draft Beer Jelly Bellys.  Come see us on Friday or over the weekend.  We'll give you a taste and help you put together a pseudo-real St. Patrick's Day gift which won't require that you have a designated driver.
Tootaloo!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Next Corner..Oh Me Oh My!!

Well, Sweet Tooth is becoming a nationally recognized store.  After 20+ years it has finally happened...a national gift publication has noticed that in Tulsa we can do some interesting and fun things with a gift store.
The March issue of GiftBeat magazine is featuring a story about Sweet Tooth, me and Jeff.  We haven't seen it yet, but we were interviewed over speaker phone a few weeks ago by the editor, Joyce and to tell you the truth, it was a great conversation.
She asked us how we went from owning laundromats to owning a gift store.  The truth is we never really thought anything odd about that.  My sister and brother-in-law owned the laundries with us.  One day we just decided that we should try being business owners...although we all had other jobs.
One thing led to another and we found ourselves owning 2 laundromats, a dry cleaners with 2 pick up stations and...odd man out....Sweet Tooth Candy & Gift Co.
We were fearless....that comes from not knowing any difference.  I also think it comes from my sister and I growing up with a immigrant father who set the example for us of starting out with nothing but ambition and owning his own company.
I suppose we wanted to be a little bit like our Dad.
Fortunately our husbands went along with us.  We established procedures and policies.  We felt like a team, which included employees we trusted and helped along the way.  Our belief in customer service came from thinking how we would like to be treated when we shopped or used a service...and then we applied our beliefs to our 2 businesses.
It is actually a fairly simple philosophy...the "do unto others....." belief that when you treat others well, they will give back the same.
The laundromats are no longer under our ownership and my sister and brother-in-law are on to another business; however I think all of us still operate with the same attitude.
It is a lot of fun to think that what we had to say to the editor of GiftBeat will be read by other retailers in other places.  And in a way it is a bit of a fantasy. 
It just goes to show us that we never know what is around the next corner. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's This Thing Called Love?

Have you ever looked around while shopping on Valentine's Day and noticed how many men are also shopping that day?
After 21 years of being in retail, we are fully aware that Valentine's Day is the one holiday every year, occurring on the same date, when men seem to feel most comfortable waiting until the day-of to purchase their gifts for loved ones and friends. For those men, price is no problem.
That is why last Saturday we were so surprised at the number of men shopping in our store.  We joked with some of them who were completely aware of the fact that they were "out early" selecting their gifts.
Are behaviors changing?  Is this because Valentine's Day is on  Friday this year? Is that what people refer to as "date night"...a term this married person has puzzled over for quite some time.  Do retailers need to plan for different behaviors in 2015?
Thinking about this question has also brought to mind other different behaviors concerning Valentine's Day.
When we first got in the retail biz, Valentine's Day meant pink for young girls and red for adults.  Our experience recently is that pink is not as popular for young girls anymore.  And we don't see as many Dads out buying gifts for their daughters.
Don't get me wrong.  Pink is hugely popular...no longer the color for Valentine's day girls, pink is now a year-round color.  It's purpose as a Valentine's gift is no longer relevant.
This thought is coming from a person who shared a pink bedroom with her sister.  I guess our Mom was way ahead of the times.
We also observed that the holiday associated most with LOVE is the holiday where lots of people shy away from putting that word on their gifts.  Strange.
Funny greeting cards have taken the place of serious, poetic cards.  Older men are most likely to purchase the frilly cards....younger people go straight for the quick sentiment inside the card.  "Hugs and Kisses" or some such greeting.
Moms and Grandmas still buy gifts for kids and are more tuned into what their kids like in terms of candy.  My Mom always bought us a box of Cherry Cordials, something I don't see these days as  a kids gift.  Now it is sours and "jar" candy which we put in Valentine cellophane bags.
And of course the candy business is a lot different than it was when I was a kid.  More choices, more color, more unusual combinations of flavors (just try Jelly Belly's Harry Potter beans!!).
Yet Valentine's Day remains a sentimental and lovely occasion...somehow "love" still shines through.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January: The Sluggish Month

I have to tell you January is a sluggish month for retailers...at least retailers like Sweet Tooth.
We attempt to have our After Christmas sale; however no matter how careful and knowledgeable a retailer you are, there are always items left over after the holidays.
And if you put up your Clearance Sale banner you will always have some customers ask if you are going out of business.  Do those same people think that Dillard's is going out of business because the entire month of January is devoted to Dillard's sales?
Pretty soon though the Sale Corner begins to look a bit sad and even our staff and us owners get tired of watching it shrink slowly during the month.
We too are anxious to see new merchandise, something with different colors, exciting possiblities.  When the red, pink and white candy arrives, we are very excited.  And this year with new kinds of candy (check out the Duck Dynasty boxed hearts and the gorgeous Sweet Shop boxed truffles) our weary faces brighten up.  At last we have something new to talk to our customers about.
Little known fact:  if you aren't in retail, you might not know that January is Gift Market time and there are hundreds and hundreds of orders ahead of the ones you put in. The wait for new merchandise is understandable when you realize that it takes time for manufacturers to gather the orders, get them to the shipping department, boxed up, picked up by UPS or Fedex, loaded onto trucks, and finally arriving at our door.
21 years ago when we started in retail, most owners and managers went to the Gift Markets and most big manufacturers had a presence in showrooms at the Market. Now days less people make the trip to the Market, preferring to order online or wait for a catalogue or a sales rep to come to the store.  We prefer to actually touch, see and ask about the merchandise while we walk who knows how many miles down the corridors of the Gift Market.  A picture on a lap top or in a catalogue does nothing for us.
Thank goodness it is now February and we are coming out of the doldrums of January. We have donated the Christmas candy to the Homeless Shelter and Western Neighbors, replacing it with hearts and chocolates.  We are slowly packing away the left over merchandise for our annual Sidewalk Sale in July.  We are putting up new displays,with new gift and jewelry items. 
No matter how cold it gets, our hearts are warmed  by the opportunity to start over again in 2014.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Trollbeads: They Don't Live Under a Bridge

Today is the first day of a week of a Trollbeads Launch Event for the Spring Collection.  The chilly nature of the weather is not an encouragement for shopping for luxury items.  Some of us, though, think that jewelry is not only necessary but essential to the way we look and feel. 
I dressed up today with my Trollbeads earrings, my Trollbeads blue bracelet and my Trollbeads ring.  I could have gone for a Trollbeads necklace but I asked myself, "Would this be over kill?" and decided to leave well enough alone.
What about Trollbeads, you ask?  Well, Sweet Tooth is the only retailer in the state of Oklahoma which carries Trollbeads.  We have had this line for about 6 or 7 years and during the majority of that time we have continued to be an oasis in a desert for Trollbeads fans.
The line itself originated in Denmark probably 40 years ago, but has an international reputation and has made its mark in the U.S.  A few years ago the family owned business established a headquarters in Princeton, N.J. and everything about the line has grown beautifully during that time.
The Spring Collection is a group of exotic silver and glass beads with names such as Arabian Nights, Hanging Gardens and Ancient Palace.  Drawing upon the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World) the jewelry designers have produced a luxuriant collection of beads.
I had a little fun with several of our staff explaining what a Dromedary is.  The Dromedary, standing on an elegant glass bead, is an outstanding bead, as is the Falcon, the Swan and the Jewel Fairy Basslet.
I was especially drawn to the Moss Agate bead and will probably add that to a bracelet.
The down side of a Trunk Show is the possibility that all the new beads may not be available on the day the collection "launches".  Sigh.  And in the case of this show we are waiting for several beads to be delivered.
If you are curious about Trollbeads, come into the store and take a look.  One of the continual questions we get from some customers is:  Will Trollbeads fit on a Pandora bracelet?  The answer is:  Some beads will.
Hope to see you around the Trollbeads case....a perfect gift for oneself or for Valentine's Day.