The Candy Buffet Is Take Out for Your Sweet Tooth
Old-fashioned favorites and new candies are at Kings Highway shop daily.
When that tiny hunger spot in your mouth is craving an old fashioned taste treat—say a banana-flavored Turkish taffy, a handful of root beer barrels or the movie favorite of all time, Juicy Fruits—you don’t have to go far.
The Candy Buffet, at the intersection of Haddon Avenue and Kings Highway, can fill that emptiness, and you’ll have to buy only enough for a day.
The stock in Jack Whitcraft’s 500-square-foot shop isn’t limited to the stuff of memories. He’s on hand seven days a week with the sour candies that are so popular with teens and gummies in every shape and color. Want to impress a date? See him for Asher chocolates by the pound or by the ounce if you’re both counting calories.
Boxed Godiva chocolates are on hand also, but not for long because Whitcraft doesn’t carry boxed chocolates once temperatures rise.
With graduations around the corner, the stock of M&M's is complete for party-givers who want to match the snacks with school colors. The 21 colors of M&M's, situated close to the front door, also are popular for baby and wedding showers. Then there are the gourmet jelly beans, boxed for purchase in clear boxes so you can bypass the colors and tastes you don't like.
Whitcraft, who grew up in the Erlton section of Cherry Hill and now lives in Washington Township, opened the shop in December 2003. The spot had been vacant for a time and he initially looked it over as a potential outlet for cooked take-home food from his mother’s restaurant, Devone’s, in Williamstown. He soon realized the traffic flow wouldn’t work and, because he had experience operating two bulk-food shops in the King of Prussia area, he decided to use his candy marketing expertise in Haddonfield.
“We would never be a destination spot. It’s too inconvenient,” said Whitcraft. “We’re here for impulse buyers,” he said, for the teens on their way home from high school mid-afternoon, or for the other kids trolling Kings Highway.
Mothers with toddlers, in strollers or by the hand, find it a comfortable place to stop, like Jennifer Colonna did last week with her son, Emilio, 3, and baby Madeline. Emilio left clutching a chocolate-covered pretzel decorated with M&M's. Just under $2, it was a good treat that would be sucked on and chomped down by the time the family got home.
“It’s a treat to come up here,” said Colonna. “He always picks the same thing and I like to come when I’m feeling bored and want to kick up his sugar high. It’s here or a cupcake,” she said.
Whitcraft said The Candy Buffet is geared to kids and older women. “The ladies will stop to get a bag of spearmint leaves on their way home from getting their hair done. For that kind of walk-in business the location is perfect,” he said.
An added bonus for shoppers is the lack of a front step or high threshold, and a wide door, making entrance easy for parents pushing strollers or older customers with canes or walkers.
“I get very few men who are 35 years old,” he said, unless it’s nearing Valentine’s Day or Easter. Mother's Day, he said, is not a popular time for candy sales.
“I’ve been in the malls (King of Prussia and Plymouth Meeting) and there are good and bad places even in a mall. Every location isn’t a good location,” he said.
“Stores like this are inventory-heavy. You have to have your stock out for people to see, so all your money is on the shelf,” he said. Orders are bundled to get free shipping, so inventory is consistently tracked.
The father of three children, including a 17-year-old daughter Jennifer who works several shifts at the register each week, Whitcraft said he enjoys kids as customers. “They’re really nice kids here. Sometimes they just come in to stand around and talk.”
First Fridays are a boon, he said, “like an eighth retail day in the week. Sometimes I don’t think people who live here realize how many visitors come to Haddonfield on the weekends, especially in the summer. They like to just walk around and a lot of them stop here to buy a bag of candy” to eat while they’re meandering around town or to take home.
“The only way to increase revenue in retail is to extend the hours. I don’t know why some of the shops aren’t open on Sundays, but it means that Haddonfield has become known as a 9-to-5 town."
Boxed candy isn’t the only treat that’s seasonal. Black Jack gum, a $1.99-a-pack brand known to people over 60, is made only once a year. “You see it and then you don’t,” Whitcraft said. Violet gum, always in stock, is 99¢.
Whitcraft uses the buffet type of marketing. For $4.99 you can fill a small cardboard container with any candies marked with a pink label. “I have things from 10¢ to boxed candy that’s $50,” he said. Boxed candy cigarettes sell three for $1
Theater-sized boxes of candy are $1.99, about twice what it costs in a dollar store, “but people will come in here for it. They’re very loyal,” he said.
Just as Whitcraft was saying few men come to his shop alone, in walked Leonard Colfer of the Sewell section of Washington Township, on a mission to buy lemon jellies coated with powdered sugar. Whitcraft shook his head. “Not in season,” he said. “Come back in a few weeks.” So Colfer settled on butterfly-shaped gummies and a broader mix of candy by weight. “I’m a candy person. I’ll be back,” he said.
The Candy Buffet opens daily at 11 a.m. It closes at 6 p.m. except on Friday and Saturday, when the shop is open until 9 p.m. The phone number for the shop, located at 220 East Kings Highway, is 856-354-1771. Owner Jack Whitcraft can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.