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” Mom, look! Cool!”

Dylan’s Candy Bar is heaven on earth for the sweet-tooth set.

Willie Wonka would feel right at home in Dylan’s Candy Bar, a 10,000-square-foot candy-plex on New York’s Upper East Side. There’s Tootsie Roll topiary, a wall of Pez dispensers, edible Post-its, and 10-pound chocolate bars. There’s a candy-theme soundtrack and old candy ads on TV screens. Dylan Lauren, the daughter of designer Ralph Lauren, and Jeff Rubin, an industry veteran, are Dylan’s co-owners.

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How Dylan’s owners describe the store

Lauren: I wanted to create a psychedelic version of the old Candy Land game. I was inspired by places like Niketown, Disneyland, and Polo stores. In my dad’s store, a table isn’t just a table. It has an old wooden look for the rugged clothes on display. We sell chocolate on a chocolate-bar register or candy under a lollipop tree. You eat ice cream on a peppermint stool. We try to make candy look like art, because that’s what it looks like to me. We want to appeal to a hip, fashionable audience and make candy sort of exclusive, like Tiffany’s. We want our bag to be something that a lady would want to be seen carrying. I think my dad is shocked at how many different age groups come in. It’s not just kids. At first, he was one of the people saying, “Well, good luck.”

Rubin: In a traditional candy shop, people come in, make their purchase, and leave. Our average customer spends more than 34 minutes in the store. People come in and get this big smile on their face, and they don’t leave. We give them lots of reasons to stay. We have nearly 4,000 candy items, which is the largest selection they’ve ever seen. We have a candy museum and a display of celebrities’ favorite candy. Candy is not just about buying it, eating it, and going home. If you like Pez, you’re interested in Pez shirts, board games, key chains, and coffee mugs. We sell Pez dispensers from $2 to $2,000. Only 23% of our sales are bulk candy, compared to about 85% at a typical candy store. Our average ticket is around $18, almost four times more than you usually find.

How Dylan’s customers describe the store

“It’s like a boutique or a good shoe store. I like to look around and touch everything.”
–Kristen Plumley, 38, singer, New York

“I’m not a candy fan. I think it’s sort of obscene.”
–Michael Caldwell, 38, singer, New York

“I can’t eat candy. But it’s fun showing my kids what I liked as a kid. I can’t believe it. They have Gold Mine nuggets in a little cloth bag. I used to put an entire handful in my mouth.”
–John Segal, business development consultant, Scarsdale, New York

“I’m getting white, purple, pink, teal, and gold M&M’s. Why go with the plain old colors when you can have variety?
–Kathy Cox, 40, graphics illustrator, Fairfield County, Connecticut

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“Mom, look! Cool!”
–Alexander Sullivan, 3, Washington, DC

“Honey, let’s get the sugarfree.”
–Alexander’s mom, Michelle, 34

“I like to see the celebrities’ favorite candy. Monica Lewinsky’s is gummy bears, Bill Clinton’s is PayDay. And look, I have the same taste as Steven Spielberg: NECCO Wafers!”
–Sarah Keiser, 20, college junior, the University of Connecticut

“They have chocolate Ice Cubes. Oh my gosh, that was my favorite. When I was 17, before Hebrew school, my dad would stop in the store and buy Winstons and I’d buy chocolate Ice Cubes. They melt in your mouth, then you get this cold feeling. This is my childhood. This is Brooklyn.”
–Violet Benny, 40, actress, New York

“Ordinarily, I buy candy at CVS and my options are limited. Here, they have unique merchandise that you couldn’t find in 10 different stores. That’s why it’s across from Bloomingdale’s and not in Wisconsin.”
–Josh Nathanson, 42, interior designer, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

“I could live here.”
–Alex Palin, 11, Abergele, Wales, UK

About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug.

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