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With owners retiring, future uncertain for area Candy Shoppe

'If you can spend 23 years making people smile and making people happy, it’s a pretty damn good way of having used your life,' says retiring owner
Dean and Rita Robinson are retiring after 23 years of owning and operating The Candy Shoppe on Highway 11.

Rita Robinson and her husband Dean are retiring as the owners of The Candy Shoppe after 23 years of welcoming locals, cottagers, and tourists to their sweet shop.

The popular Highway 11 South business has been a staple of many summer vacations, serving up joy for young children and nostalgia for adults offering flavours from their childhood.

Robinson is now 65 years old and her husband is 60, making it time for them to walk away from the business, they say. The store on the opposite side of the highway closed in January 2021 and the southbound store is set to close by Nov. 1. 

“We’ve worked every Saturday and Sunday for 23 years straight,” Robinson said. “We’ve never had Easter or Thanksgiving with our family, we’ve given up every single weekend of our lives.”

The Robinsons have nieces and nephews who have recently become parents.  

“It’s time for us to become a part of their lives,” Robinson said. “We don’t want to be the invisible aunt and uncle.”

The physical toll of working nine-hour days is starting to catch up with the Robinsons; they want to walk away while they are still healthy enough to enjoy the opportunities to be active and do some travelling.

Staffing issues, supplier issues, and shipping costs have also played into the Robinsons' decision to retire.

“It’s just time for us,” Robinson said. “Somebody can pick this up and still run a very successful business out of it. It can still be a very exciting and viable business.”

The Candy Shoppe is currently for sale, and while there have been serious buyer interest, the Robinsons are unsure if the iconic shop will be saved.

“What has stopped serious buyers is they can’t find any accommodations in Orillia,” Robinson explained. “They can’t find an apartment or a house to buy.”

The Robinsons have already prepared themselves for the worst-case scenario, putting some products on sale for up to 25 percent off. Even more products will be going on sale starting Sept. 6.

Robinson is hopeful that somebody will be able to take over the business to keep the tradition alive.  

“We were a destination drive,” she said. “We have a lot of loyal customers.”

The Toronto native says she will miss seeing first-time customers walk through the shop doors.

“Their jaw literally drops,” she said. “They think they are just going to see candy but instead it looks like Comic-Con mixed with a candy store.”

Robinson says she and her husband have no regrets about their time as the owners and operators of The Candy Shoppe.

“If you can spend 23 years making people smile and making people happy, it’s a pretty damn good way of having used your life,” she said.

It has been a successful life endeavour for Robinson who tried owning 13 different businesses before opening The Candy Shoppe.

“I started off in business when I was 18," she said. "I’ve lost businesses due to banks pulling loans, business partners locking me out, and all sorts of crazy things that have happened...So my message to others would be to never give up." 

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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