Brooke and Mike Wade love saltwater taffy. For years, the Overland Park couple would haul back packages of the chewy, flavorful candy from Colorado. After their children were all in school, Brooke Wade was looking for something to do, and the idea of taffy popped into her head.
“We thought why not bring the taffy to us and open a store,” she said. “We like candy, so it was a good fit for us. The taffy started it off, and it grew from there.”
The Wades opened Candy Time, a retail candy store, in June 2013. In addition to saltwater taffy that actually comes from a company in Salt Lake City, Candy Time carries a variety of treats as well as candy-themed T-shirts and accessories.
The store, 10069 W. 87th St., is open seven days a week. Mike Wade continues to run his own construction company, but is involved with the store; Brooke Wade oversees the day-to-day operations with her stepdaughter and two other employees.
The Wades kicked around the idea for the candy store for about a year and a half, doing research and putting together a business plan. Mike Wade really pushed the project.
“He was the motivator,” said Brooke Wade of her husband.
Q: Why did you select your location?
“We live right around the corner,” Wade said. “The malls were out of the question. We thought about downtown Overland Park but you can’t get in there it’s so popular. We knew we needed to be off a main road for traffic.”
The Wades settled on 87th Street between Farley and Switzer on the south side of the road, near the Johnson County Central Resource Library. They negotiated the lease themselves.
“Being next to Papa Murphy’s and Beer Cave, you can have dinner and dessert,” she said with a laugh. “It’s a good location.”
Q: What makes you different from other candy stores?
Wade said most of Candy Time’s products are sold in bulk by weight. Individually wrapped items are sold by the piece.
“We have a lot of old style nostalgic candies — the Mary Jane’s, wax bottles and wax sticks filled with liquid — things you don’t often see and are hard to get, even for us,” she said.
“Our prices are cheap and we have such variety including more than 50 flavors of taffy.”
The store is divided into such sections as Taffy Time, Chocolate Time and Sour Time, carrying the appropriate candies to match the themes.
“We have a creepy table with off-the-wall named candy like Zombie Buggers, Formula Pee that actually comes in a sterile cup, and Demon Blood,” she said.
Brooke Wade selects candy by what sells the best.
“There were some things I carried in the beginning that didn’t sell so well, so we don’t carry those anymore,” Wade said. One of her personal favorites is chocolate-covered gummy bears.
“I didn’t like them at first but now I am addicted.”
There are novelty items, too, like the 28-pound, 8-foot python and the 26-pound gummy bear.
The Wades order candy by the hundreds of pounds, averaging 600 pounds every two months. Because of the temperature sensitivity of some of the candy, the Wades keep the store at a consistent 70 degrees year round.
“Our utility bill varies,” Brooke Wade said. “When it’s 100 degrees, it runs a pretty penny.”
Q: What is your main competition and how do you compete?
Wade said other bulk candy stores provide the most competition for Candy Time.
“Taffy is our secret weapon,” Wade said. “When they come in and see the entire assortment we have, they come back.”
There is one candy category Candy Time does not carry much of — holiday items.
“I can’t compete with the Wal-Marts and Targets,” she said.
So how does Wade choose what candy to put in the store?
“If I wouldn’t buy it, I’m not going to sell it,” she said. “We rotate our candy, and we don’t get much spoilage.”
Q: What are your plans for Candy Time?
Although Candy Time has been open less than a year, Wade is thinking ahead.
“We’re looking at franchising and looking into opening another location,” Wade said. “We’re thinking maybe at the Legends or around Town Center.”