The Sticky's Candy mascot has been making community appearances, including at Langley Rivermen games at the Langley Events Centre.

Candy store eyes domination

Community involvement one of many keys for small businesses to succeed

Candy Crush be warned, Robin Burnette, owner of  Sticky’s Candy, has his eyes set on total candy domination.

His goal: build the largest independent candy chain in Canada by the end of 2014.

After selling his previous business, Burnette wasn’t sure what was next.

“But when my partner and I read about the growth of candy and how the numbers were strong — even through the 2008 downturn — so we knew we had to take a closer look,”  he said.

Research is key to a winning business plan so Burnette hit the road, attending a candy expo and touring candy stores throughout the United States, cherry-picking ideas along the way.

“We chose the best ideas from every vendor we met to develop Sticky’s Candy,” said Burnette. “The result has been remarkable. Our first store in Chilliwack quickly outpaced our expectations, so we decided to open another one in Langley, and then another in Maple Ridge. It wasn’t long after that, people started asking to buy our business.”

While Burnett understood the interest in his company, selling wasn’t part of his plan. That’s when a friend suggested a new approach — franchising.

“I wasn’t surprised people wanted to be a part of Sticky’s success, but I wasn’t interested in selling,” says Burnette. “However, when the option to franchise was presented we realized it made perfect sense.”

One of Burnette’s first franchise partners were Sherri Martin and Kelly Bouchard.

Martin, who is part of the sales staff at the Langley Times, always wanted a candy store.

“When Sticky’s opened up in Langley I fell in love with the concept and when Robin mentioned that he was franchising I knew I had to be a part.”

Martin’s brother, Kelly Bouchard has no hesitation stating what entrepreneurs need for success.

“Small businesses need to recognize the need for professional advice and support,” said Bouchard. “I attribute any successes to the support I’ve received from professionals —  accountants, financial advisors, lawyers: those who can ensure my business is growing and strong. There’s no one person who succeeds without others.”

Martin and Bouchard said the help they got from Envision Financial was invaluable.

And their immediate success has prompted them to open another location in Walnut Grove.

Burnette, Martin and Bouchard are unified in their approach to customers and the business — it’s all about keeping customers happy and getting the word out.

“In my 28 years as a business owner there has been no better lesson,” said Burnette. “Your customers come first and if they are happy, your business will be as well.”

“We’re not just a candy store, we offer candy expertise,” said Martin. “Some people want sugar free candy, so we listen to what the customer wants and bring that in. If people come in and ask for a product, we work hard to make sure they’re happy.”

“You need to market your business to succeed,” added Martin. “A lot of companies think they can just open a store and people will come, but that’s not the way it works. We put a lot into our marketing, we do a lot of events, we’re very involved in the community—we get our name out there any way we can.”

Looking to the future, Burnette is clear about his vision for Sticky’s Candy, which is to expand across Canada.

“It’s about finding the right location and the right partners.

“We’re not pushy, and we won’t be pushy — that’s not who we are.”

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