Coney candy confrontation: Big sweets chain opens near candy-apple Mecca

Coney candy confrontation: Big sweets chain opens near candy-apple Mecca
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Call it a sugar showdown!

National candy retailer It’s Sugar opened a Coney Island location on May 3 in Thor Equities’ long-vacant building at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues — just one block away from 73-year-old People’s Playground staple Williams Candy.

Jeff Rubin, founder and Chief Executive Officer of It’s Sugar — which has 70 stores worldwide — said that sweet-toothed and cavity-riddled Coney-goers would choose his new shop over Williams Candy and its famous homemade candy apples and marshmallow treats because of the chain’s sleek, trendy vibe and jumbo, novelty-size boxes of Nerds, SweeTarts, Laffy Taffy, Gobstoppers, Pop Rocks, and Snickers bars

“Our candy stores are not your typical ‘old fashioned and stale’ stores but more of a hip and cool place where customers can find so many exclusive, unique and fun products,” said Rubin.

But Williams Candy owner Peter Agrapides said he is not afraid of a tooth-rotting rivalry — partly because his store makes half its money by catering events, and partly because he contended with the old Phillips Candy shop located inside the Stillwell Avenue train station for decades. He predicted people would continue to come to his store for old-school confections, just like they have for decades.

“I got no problem with competition. Competition is always good,” said Agrapides, who took over the store at the corner of Surf Avenue and Schweikerts Walk 28 years ago. “Why have people been coming here for all these years? We got a good store, we got good food, people like our store and our merchandise.”

Agrapides said he was close to Phillip’s Candy owner John Dorman until station reconstruction forced Dorman to relocate his store to Staten Island in 2001 — and added that he was open to having an equally sticky-sweet relationship with It’s Sugar.

“I’m friends with everybody. If these people want to be friendly, I’ll be friends with them too,” said Agrapides. “God bless ’em.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him attwitter.com/WillBredderman.

Sugar rush: Customers poured into the new store during its first weekend to load up on Nerds, Sweet Tarts, Laffy Taffy, Gobstoppers, and Pop Rocks.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini