By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Things are a little bit sweeter on the West Coast these days with the pleasant addition of a virtual candy store. Candy Lane is an online business that offers free local delivery on purchases of $10 or more, and offers a variety of unique and retro candy and chocolates that are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Owner Ashley Pomeroy, who was born and raised in Stephenville, just celebrated her first year in business last Friday, Jan. 6.
“It’s been quite the year,” said Pomeroy. “I’ve always been inspired by entrepreneurs. I’ve always been surrounded by entrepreneurship, and I have a background in business. I have my Bachelor of Business Administration from MUNL (Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador). I’m really interested in marketing and I found this to be my outlet where I could be really creative and pursue marketing when it comes to doing up posters online, creating logos, creating different graphics for sales, product pictures, and designing the e-commerce website.”
Pomeroy lived in St. John’s with her boyfriend from 2012 to 2018 while they were both in school, and they returned to the West Coast where he opened his own auto shop business.
“I am someone who always wants to try something new, so when I would see a new candy, or makeup product, I would see a commercial and try it and see what it was like. Items like that were more readily available when I was living in St. John’s,” said Pomeroy. “There are local candy stores in there where you can always access new products, so it was something that I also wanted to be able to offer here in Stephenville.”
During COVID, the inspiration for her own candy store came from an unlikely place.
“I remember being really inspired by candy stores on TikTok. During the pandemic, I would get in my For You page a lot, #candytok, where I would see these videos of entrepreneurs packing up their orders to send to customers from online candy stores and showing new products that come into their stores,” said Pomeroy. “They would show different subscription boxes that they were creating, how they were stocking their shelves, and that really fascinated me. I think that’s where the idea originally came from.”
Because her business is entirely online, Candy Lane didn’t really struggle when the pandemic was in full swing.
“It’s really interesting for us in particular because we are an online business and we don’t have a storefront,” explained Pomeroy. “Our business is based entirely on deliveries, so during the pandemic we were able to offer contactless curbside deliveries to our customers. It was completely contactless. People would pay for everything directly online, no exchanging of money, and then the deliveries would be dropped on their doorstep, and they would receive a notification when their delivery was placed there.”
Over the past year Candy Lane has grown enough that Pomeroy is able to offer a wider selection of products than it first did.
“We have a lot of customer support where they give me a lot of requests of things they’d really like to see, and we feel like we’ve created a really cool candy community online where people are just as passionate about candy as I am, which is awesome,” said Pomeroy.
“It’s funny because I didn’t really get an opportunity to meet a lot of these customers face-to-face until I started doing more pop-up events during the summer. The first six months of my business, everything was really communicated online and it’s really cool that you’re able to make those connections through social media.”
The pop-up events not only gave Pomeroy the opportunity to meet her existing customers, it gave her the opportunity to find even more.
“During the summer we tried to do a pop-up every weekend at Kin Square in Stephenville, which was a really great way to get out and meet customers face-to-face. The Downtown Stephenville Business Association actually helped me do a lot of the co-ordination. They do the logistic side of the rentals, and they were really fantastic with helping us schedule the kiosk and letting us know when there were going to be large events downtown where we would probably see a lot of people at Kin Square. If someone has a small business, I think it’s an incredible opportunity for you to get out there and use one of those kiosks.”
Community support has been especially important for Pomeroy.
“Our customers are amazing. We’ve created that online candy community where customers will request items they want us to carry or send us reviews of items they’ve tried, and they also send us pictures of their Candy Lane stashes which is really cool,” said Pomeroy. “Along with the customers, I’ve also received a lot of support from other local business owners.”
Pomeroy has big plans for Candy Lane this year.
“I don’t know if a storefront will be in the cards for 2023, but that is the dream. I would love to have a storefront one day. It’s the ultimate dream, but for 2023 I definitely want to expand our candy selection, offer more nostalgic candy and rare treats,” said Pomeroy. “At the pop-up events it was really nice to get to chat to people about their requests. We’ve had people request candy that they may have had during their childhood that have been discontinued in Canada, but are offered at novelty candy stores across the world. I would also like to create more online video content on places like TikTok, and I’ve been toying with the idea of a candy subscription box with our Candy Lane monthly picks. I’d love to do that, and I’d love to collaborate with other local businesses and artists if possible.”
Pomeroy offers a bit of advice for others thinking about starting their own journey into entrepreneurship.
“If you have a business idea, getting out there and trying it, making sure you speak to someone about your business idea, there’s a lot of different business support organizations out there that can help you. Don’t wait for perfection. I think that’s one of the things that held me back,” said Pomeroy. “I always felt that it wasn’t ready to start. Maybe it wasn’t the time to start by business, and was always trying to make things perfect before I started. I think I had my website for about a month before I launched it because I felt like I had to keep tweaking it. Don’t wait for perfection. If you feel like you want to start a business, talk to someone and get started. You never know where it’s going to take you.”
By Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jan 16, 2023 at 06:00