As a child, Christopher Beers appreciated the imagination, creativity and unexpected nature of the Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
As an adult, Beers has turned the spirit of that book into tangible storefront locations across three states - including one Downtown Springfield.
Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
- named after Grandpa Joe from the novel - opened in Springfield in late 2022, and quickly became a favorite among adults and kids alike.
Beers refers to Dahl's Grandpa Joe character as "unique" - an observation that bloomed into what he calls “not your average candy store.” He opened his first store in Pittsburgh in 2012, and spread the joy of sweet confections from there.
While all shops have evolved from this muse, they are also each designed to be better than the last, Beers says.
“I want customers to come into the shop and be surprised by the experience and the inventory.” he says.
Springfield was a great fit for Grandpa Joes, says Beers, because for each of his shops, he specifically chooses to invest in “small-town real estate and firmly avoid strip malls or commercial properties.” He believes the architecture of his locations tie into the quality of each store.
After touring a number of Downtown Springfield locations, Beers says the former Columbia Gas headquarters felt like it had the potential he was looking for. And, at 6,000 sq ft, it has become the largest Grandpa Joe’s location yet.
The window-lined storefront invites customers in to explore the both new and nostalgic candies, a wall of unique sodas, quirky gift items, an ice cream counter, the infamous $5 wall of candy and so much more.
“What are you waiting for?” Beer says to anyone who hasn’t stopped in yet. “Just prepare to have your mind blow. We have almost every type of nostalgic candy being made. We make it a priority to find candy that nobody else can find.”
The store also features a large section of international candy that isn’t often found in the U.S., he says.
“Then, on top of that we offer variations of toys, games, and nick-nacks,” he added, who says he hopes his shops bring together both families and communities. “We want to be able to reach as broad of an audience as we can and cater to kids, teenagers, and adults.”
And, the Springfield location offers some unique features all its own.
“Springfield definitely gave us the opportunity to do things that we haven't been able to do before: the pneumatic air duct system sending candy above people's heads, rubber duck baths, not to mention a whole section dedicated to Disney’s The Simpsons – we are in ‘Springfield,’ after all,” Beers says.
Beyond the sweets and trinkets, Beers is intentional in his focus on the importance of “the impact which we can have in the community that can differentiate a chain, such a Grandpa Joe’s.”
“It’s important to me and my managing team to find and participate in any events … and stay involved.”
Beers sees Grandpa Joe’s as a part of Springfield’s growing Downtown, and he is excited to be part of the local small business community. He emphasizes the importance of small businesses supporting each other rather than only their individual operations, and how that benefits the community as a whole.
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