Hi! I'm James and I love candy. Seriously, the feeling I get when I walk into a candy store is unmatched. It's almost adrenaline. It was natural, if not fate, that I would grow up to be in the candy business.
That's me in the top right with the classic Ninja Sweater. Being a Ninja was my second career choice. Damn I was cute. And a vicious candy fiend.
From the moment I realized that I had the ability to exchange shiny pieces of silver for sugar, I was hooked. My parents tried to instill in me the value of money and being responsible at an early age. I wasn't having any of that. I literally spent every shilling on candy. From Pixy Sticks to Bonkers to Garbage Pail Kids I was hooked.
My local gas station, Jerry's, was my hook up. Frankly, I'm surprised Jerry didn't cut me off or call child services.
I grew up during the evolution of weird novelty candy and the banning of Garbage Pail Kids. The best part of the Garbage Pail Kids era was the really crummy candy that came with the mono color figure in a small plastic garbage bag. Seriously. This may have been the worst purchasing decision I have ever made but I didn't care. They were offensive. The packaging even said they were bad.
As I grew up my sweet tooth did not subside. As a teenager my diet mainly consisted of Slushies and Snickers Bars. I'm honestly that amazed that I'm still alive.
Upon graduating High School I knew that being self employed was something I wanted to pursue, but still did not have the foresight to listen to 12 year old me and get into the candy business. I did however fall in love with another one of my passions - djing.
I spent the rest of my teens and early twenties collecting records and traveling around playing them for anyone who would listen. During my adventures I would check out any and all candy stores that I crossed paths with. Some were obviously better than others. There were stores that may have well been a convenience store, short of selling cigarettes. There were the stores that were a throw back to some by-gone era when Necco Waffers and Candy Corn were the go-to-candy of choice.
On a trip to Austin I went to a store that changed my life forever. It was fun, weird, colorful and had all the hard to find candy that I ever dreamed of. It inspired me like nothing else ever. I promptly started planning my candy empire.
In 2004 I approached a number of landlords in Calgary but not one of them would bite. "You have no experience" they said. They weren't wrong. After University I ended up working as an accountant. I knew very little about running a business. Over the next few years I would continue to plan and scheme but nothing hatched, nothing until fall 2011.
In September we did our first pop-up store. It was fairly basic, nothing more than a couple tables, a menu, a temporary logo and some candy. I was amazed at the initial reaction. The stories that people would associate with their favorite candies and the fond memories they brought back were amazing. It was at that moment I knew that Gummi had to be more than a temporary gig.
December 10, 2011 I left my cushy office gig and opened our first location in the Glamorgan neighborhood of Calgary. At the time it was my hood as well. I could literally skateboard to the store. Our first day we had a line up the moment we opened the doors for the first time.
During that initial 6 months we had some amazing media coverage and were invited to participate in some equally amazing community events. One of my all time favorites was the gum ball Nenshi portrait by artist Franz Spohn who also produced works of Barack Obama, Michael Jackson and others. I was recruited to go find these specific sized gum balls that he required to produce the work of art. Frankly it wasn't that difficult to find, but the media picked up the story making it seem like I was a candy caped crusader that saved the day and that it was like a covert operation to bring across the US/Canada border. Really it was just filing the appropriate customs paper work. Either way, it was great publicity and really put us on the map as a Calgary based business.
Within 6 months we were planning our second location in the Kensington neighbourhood. It was an old dog treat bakery. Thre was giant tubs of bar-b-que sauce in the back room which was confusing to us at the time, turns out it was for the treats. The store came together nicely and was a hit right from the get go.
After Kensington we've expand Gummi even further into 2 more locations, 10426 Whyte Ave in Edmonton (down a magical, Potterish, side alley. Just lookout for Charlie Bucket) and 1321 9th Ave SE in historic Inglewood in Calgary. We've changed the game by offering candy delivered right to your door via Skip the Dishes and our own on-line store which you, if you are reading this, are currently on.
We have a lot of awesome plans for the future and are very excited for the opportunities, and challenges that lie ahead. Now go ahead, explore the rest of the site, I'm sure you'll find some goodies that you can't resist.
Thanks for everything friends,