Kids Call it Heaven!
The most enjoyable aspect of Mr Simms Old Sweet Shoppe is, supposedly, its devotion to recreating the sweet shops of old.But in truth, none of us ever had a sweet shop as good as this.
While they may wear brown aprons, play Vera Lynn records and personally place the pick ‘n’ mix sweets in brown paper bags, Mr Simms is more than a nostalgia trip. That’s because it caters for all eras. One moment someone in their eighties might walk in and marvel at the jar of Jap Desserts, and a minute later you could see the same reaction from someone in their thirties picking up a Wham bar.
Mr Simms has a little bit of everything (well, almost - more on that later). There’s Swirly Wirly lollipops, Candy Canes, Love Heart lollies, Millions bubblegum, Highland Toffee, Gobstoppers, Candy Floss tubs, American Cream Soda flavoured Sherbert, nougat, fudge, chocolate, liquorice, truffles, marshmallows, chocolate drops, coconut ice, jelly beans, chocolate bananas and sugar mice.
And in amongst the 365 jars you’ll find just about everything else - mint humbugs, tum tums, bon bons, and even the 24 biggest selling flavours of Jelly Belly jelly beans in the world! Mr Simms opened to much excitement just over a year ago, and business has been good enough for owners Anthony and Sharon O’Callaghan to open a second branch in Crawley town centre just last month.
Still people are coming in and discovering the store for the first time, and the couple keep regular customers interested with special events which they promote to more than 1000 ‘friends’ on Facebook! Sharon said: “Still people’s general reaction is ‘Oh my God!’
“They stand there looking at the jars, saying ‘I remember that’ and they wander around having a look at what else we have. Sometimes they spend 15 minutes in here and don’t buy anything, then come back later! “We’ve got the first sweet that came off ration after the war - Jap Desserts. You’ll find a lot of people in their eighties will come in and reminisce, as it was something they remember from their childhood.”
One would be forgiven for thinking that Mr Simms would struggle to maintain the success of its first few months, but the enterprise of the owners has helped generate new customers, while the opening of The Entertainer toy shop nearby has ensured the area draws in youngsters. Sharon said: “We’ve started making hampers mainly for
weddings as retro sweets are really popular to give as gifts. We try and diversify away from just selling things over the counter to meet people’s needs."
But they owe much debt to the sweet makers who have survived, despite a huge dip in the popularity of boiled sweets and pick ‘n’ mix as chocolate bars dominated for decades. Anthony said: “While sweet shops like this went out of fashion in the south they stayed pretty common in the north and the midlands and that is where a lot of these sweet manufacturers are based.
“A lot of shops became convenience stores, concentrating more on alcohol and food, and sweets fell by the wayside. But thankfully many of the manufacturers survived and little has changed with how most of the sweets are made”
But there is one that got away! Anthony said: “Spangles is the one that is most missed. If I had a pound for every time we were asked about it we would have enough to build a new machine to make them!”
For more about the shop visit http://www.mrsimmshorsham.co.uk/