WATCH: A sweet taste of nostalgia at Auntie Pam’s sweet shop
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
One of Suffolk’s best-loved old fashioned sweet shops, which is packed full of more than 1,000 different types of sugary treats from a bygone era, is now up for sale.
Stepping inside Auntie Pam’s in Bury Saint Edmunds, and you might feel your childhood memories come (sugar) rushing back.
Sherbet Fountains, Flying Saucers, Fruit Salads, Cola Cubes, Midget Gems, Lovehearts, Swizzel Lollies and Bon Bons can be picked out from around 400 weigh-out jars and boxes of goodies.
The sweets are packed up in distinctive pink and white paper bags, to add to the nostalgic experience.
“Our bestselling old fashioned flavours are the floral gums, and cherry lips are popular,” says Sheila Barnard, who currently runs the shop with her husband Ken Barnard, from Hunston. “People also still love rhubard and custard sweets and sherbet lemons.”
There is a craze for unicorns at the moment - Dunelm recently cited to the popularity of unicorn-themed home furnishings for a 10% rise in profits - and sweets are no exception, it seems.
“Unicorn-themed sweets are very popular at the moment,” says Sheila. “We have a variety in stock - from marshmallow and rock lollies, jellies, giant unicorn rock and our presentation boxes filled with unicorn sweets.”
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Auntie Pam’s is not Bury’s only sweet shop - there is also a Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe in Buttermarket - but it is the only independent one.
And elsewhere in Suffolk, there are still several other traditional independent sweet shops, such as Sweet Memories in Hadleigh, and in Ipswich, Candy Ga Ga and the Olde English Sweet Shop.
So why are old fashioned sweet shops still going, in an age when a wide range of sweets can be bought in almost any supermarket - or, indeed, online?
“People like having the freedom to be able to pick and choose their sweets,” says Sheila. “They love the process of watching the jars being opened and the bags filling up.”
Sheila used to have a packaging business and was a supplier to Bury’s market for 15 years, while Ken was a financial director before they took the shop on 11 years ago.
Auntie Pam’s gets its name from the previous owner, Pam, who started it up 15 years ago.
But now, Sheila and Ken are selling up due to retirement and ill health, and are looking for somebody else to take the shop on.
“The best bit about running a sweet shop is meeting all the customers,” says Sheila. “They’re all lovely people, and the children can be quite funny.
“We have people come in here from all over the world. Just before Christmas, we had a lady came in from Canada, who buys lots of our old fashioned slab toffee to take back there with her. We have a lot of families who come here from America and Australia in the summer for their sweets. It’s nice to think of our sweets being eaten in all different parts of the world.”
A new management team would need to be willing to work through the school holidays, as the store is busiest in the run-up to Christmas time, but also in other school holidays such as Easter, plus Valentine’s Day.
The downside of the shop is that it’s so crammed with sweets in a small room and Sheila admits the lack of space does cause problems sometimes.
“But I look back with very fond memories,” says Sheila. “Had we been younger and in better health, there are a lot of other ways we would have liked to promote to up the business - There is scope for more. I do a lot of orders on Facebook, but I would have liked to have started a selling website page for sweets.”
Adams & Co are the agents selling the business and should be contacted by interested buyers.