Tom Scheiman believes in doing things the old-fashioned way. Some things are just better that way. Take candy, for instance: His store, B. A. Sweetie Candy
, also known as Sweeties, is the largest candy store in America. Shoppers will find things there that are available nowhere else, like candy cigarettes, which, while not politically correct, are a top seller.
Last year, Sweeties attracted over 250,000 customers to its store. On any given day, the venue has $2 million worth of candy inventory on store shelves.
And now, after multiple expansions to his original space at 7480 Brook Park Road in Brooklyn, Scheiman is constructing an all new, 40,000-square-foot candy emporium in Old Brooklyn
-- the old-fashioned way: no debt, no grants, no incentives. Just his own cash that he's socked away for years selling candy.
The $3.5-million project will feature a 36-hole mini-golf course called Sweeties Golfland (18 holes already are open). In the coming years, Scheiman also has plans to build another 18 holes -- Candyland-themed, of course -- and an ice cream shop. He purchased the five-acre property from an estate in 2012.
A highly visible sign featuring a 40-foot lollipop soon will rise along I-480, where approximately 135,000 cars pass by on a daily basis. Talk about a great marketing opportunity.
"I've been in the candy business since I was 15 years old," says Scheiman, who purchased Sweeties in 1982 and has seen it grow by about 10 percent each year. The company employs about 40 people. "I don't know how to do anything else."
If you've been to Sweeties, you know it offers good deals in a warehouse-style environment. The new store, which Scheiman says is 90 percent complete and is expected to open later this year, will continue in that tradition. "I’m not about being a hootie tootie, frilly, wood floor, beautiful lighting type of store," he quips. "I’m about volume, and I’m value priced. It’s my business philosophy. I'd rather have a little dust on my shelves and sell you a candy bar at 67 cents than offer you the same bar at $1.29 because I've got a wood floor and halogen lighting."
Sweeties is known for its incredible selection and variety, including throwback items available at few other places. The new, larger store will offer even more display space. One prominent feature will be a 30-foot-long, 12-foot-tall Jelly Belly display that reportedly holds $100,000 worth of jelly beans. At the entrance, visitors will be greeted by a restored '32 Ford truck once used to deliver candy.
The company is unusual because it sells both wholesale and retail. Yet its direct-to-consumer approach keeps prices down at the store, which has become a family destination. As Scheiman puts it, "There is no middle man. I am the middle man."
Thinking about securing a five-finger discount on any of those sweets? Don't. Scheiman is installing 32 cameras throughout his new showroom. "We've been doing this a few weeks," he says.
Scheiman predicts that about 400,000 people will visit his store next year. The new Sweeties Candy and Golfland will be located at 6770 Brook Park Road, on site of the old Brookpark Fun and Games. Golfland is now open Sunday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.