Dylan’s Candy Bar, which launched in 2001 with a store in New York City, aims to provide shoppers with an experience equivalent to a modern-day version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
“We are about creating an experience. It’s not just about the candy – it’s about everything that goes with it,” says Tushar Adya, president and COO of Dylan's Candy Bar. “When you come into the store, it’s about the entire experience – how the product is merchandised, the smells, the look, the feel, the colour, the environment.”
Dylan’s Candy Bar carries a vast selection of gummies, chocolates, jelly beans, lollipops and much more. The products include Dylan’s own private label items, along with various American nostalgic favorites and imported specialty sweets.
The retailer also carries a range of gifts and lifestyle items, such as toys and stuffed animals, accessories, apparel and stationary.
Although the enormous volume of sweets – on its own – creates a vibrant rainbow of colours, the stores present an even bolder and brighter backdrop.
Each Dylan’s store boasts a smorgasbord of colourful design features, such as bright coloured lights, candy-themed wallpaper, jumbo lollipop trees, candy cane columns and dripping chocolate shelves.
“It’s really ‘retail-tainment’,” says Adya.
Dylan’s operates 27 stores, including the new Toronto location, and an additional three locations are set to open soon. Its stores are located primarily in major metropolitan cities such as Chicago, L.A. and Miami, and touristy hotspots such as Colorado and the Bahamas.
In addition to retail merchandise, some locations feature cafés and bars that serve a variety of food, drinks and desserts.
The company has long had plans to expand into the Canadian market, according to Adya. “Canada has always been on our radar,” he says. “It’s a great market, and Toronto is a great city.”
Dylan’s operates several stores in airports throughout the U.S., and has had success with those locations. So, when the opportunity emerged at Pearson, Adya says it was a perfect fit.
“A lot of airports have a lot of traffic, and candy makes for a nice surprise,” he says. “It’s a captive audience, and I think many travellers enjoy the experience given how much time they spend in airports.”
The new store, which is located in Pearson’s Terminal 1, is 1,100 square feet in size, and boasts the same colourful and attention-grabbing design features as Dylan’s other stores.
In the months to come, the retailer plans to explore possible locations for a Canadian flagship store in an urban area.
In the meantime, Dylan’s has established a distribution agreement with Hudson’s Bay, which will see certain merchandise available in 81 Bay stores across Canada. The company also is partnering with Holt Renfrew to further expand its Canadian distribution in the months ahead.
Partnerships with department stores in the U.S. have been successful for Dylan’s in the past, Adya notes.
“For our premium position product, we generally do well in department stores,” he says. “We’ve had department store distribution in the U.S. for a long period of time, and so going into Canada, that was kind of an obvious choice for us.”