With two locations, Gummi Boutique satsifies Calgarian’s candy cravings
Growing up, his favourite book was Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, his favourite movie was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and he spent every bit of his allowance at the local convenience store on candy. Should we be surprised that James Dobbin runs one of the coolest candy and novelty stores in Calgary? Not really.
After unhappily working as an accountant, Dobbin abandoned his career to pursue a dream of opening up a candy store. “I was working at the time and hated every minute of what I was doing,” he explained when I asked him about the transition from filing and numbers to candy enthusiast. “I was a candy freak and a collector as a kid. I have always had an obsession with wacky packaging and retro items. I just love weird pop culture and underground stuff”. A drastic career transition? Perhaps, but it is certainly an admirable one.
“Life is too short. Sure, it’s scary to go from something so secure to something so unsure, but why live in a way that is not the way you want to live? I just finally decided to go for it,” Dobbin said. And go for it he did.
In 2011, Dobbin opened the first Gummi Boutique in Glamorgan, and before they even opened the doors, they had a line-up down the sidewalk thanks to exposure from CBC’s The Eyeopener. While The Eyeopener may have kick-started the store, there is no denying that Dobbin’s involvement online and within in the community has contributed to Gummi Boutique’s success. In October of 2012, less than a year after opening the first Gummi Boutique in Glamorgan, Dobbin opened a second location in Kensington, which is equally as successful and intriguing as the first. Though Dobbin would prefer to keep his plans for the future a secret, he is excited about the online store that was launched in mid-August.
If you have yet to experience Gummi Boutique, prepare yourself for a whole lot of colour, a whole lot of candy, and a whole lot of fun. With dozens of bulk candies to choose from, in addition to hundreds of other reasonably priced novelty and candy items like Pez dispensers and Ghost Pepper candy made with Bhut Jolokia peppers, rest assured you will leave Gummi Boutique having seen or tried something new. From unique fruit flavoured treats to coke bottle and sour soother candies, there is truly something for everyone at Gummi Boutique.
With 90% of the candy and novelty items in store brought in from Japan and the United States, don’t be surprised to find jumbo sized gummy bears weighing nearly five pounds, pumpkin flavoured Kit Kat bars around Halloween, and a number of assorted novelty items that will make you giggle. Aside from the imported goods, Dobbin is currently working on branding some of his own chocolate bars and is excited to be working with a local chocolatier to do so. While this is still a work in progress, Dobbin is proud to carry locally made chocolate covered bacon, and yes, even the bacon is locally sourced.
For Halloween, Dobbin explained that in addition to always carrying zombie and The Walking Dead novelty items, the stores will be receiving of a number of tasty bulk items from the United States like liquorice ghosts, jelly-filled skulls, and caramel apple flavoured candy corn. “This year we are going to have some pre-packaged goodie bags for sale for those people who lead busy, active lifestyles. We know that there are a lot of people who want to participate in Halloween and an equal number of people who just don’t have the time to prepare,” Dobbin said.
Alongside Gummi’s unique selection of treats and novelty items that you will find inside the shop, you will also find unique customer service. While it may seem unexpected to find exceptional customer service at a candy store, I have never been let down by the staff. The Gummi Boutique team is incredibly helpful and any questions that you may have will be answered with enthusiasm and expertise. Nut allergy? No problem. Looking to buy a gift for that incredibly hard to buy for relative? The staff will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
With exceptional customer service and an endless selection of candy that is hard to come by, allow yourself to indulge at Dobbin’s Gummi Boutique. Whether you pay them a visit for Halloween or stop in regularly to satisfy your sweet tooth, remember that there is no such thing as “junk food” at this specialty shop—just candy, and lots of it!
Photo by Ingrid Keunzel