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My Economy

A nearly 200-year-old sweet shop stood the test of time. How is it weathering the pandemic?

Minju Park Jul 5, 2021
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“We stock many traditional sweets,” says Ben Howie, owner of the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, located in Pateley Bridge, England. Courtesy Elizabeth Hotson (BBC/Marketplace)
My Economy

A nearly 200-year-old sweet shop stood the test of time. How is it weathering the pandemic?

Minju Park Jul 5, 2021
Heard on:
“We stock many traditional sweets,” says Ben Howie, owner of the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, located in Pateley Bridge, England. Courtesy Elizabeth Hotson (BBC/Marketplace)
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Many businesses have been forced to pivot during the pandemic, implementing new tactics to navigate city lockdowns, capacity restrictions and mask regulations.

Ben Howie is the owner of the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, located in northern England’s Pateley Bridge. Established in 1827, the shop’s distinction was validated by Guinness World Records in 2014.

“We stock many traditional sweets such as our rhubarb and custard, our pear drops and of course our Yorkshire mixture with fruit, hard-boiled sweets,” Howie said. “Then when the customer comes to pay, we still use a traditional till which dates back over 120 years.”

Howie said the shop shifted to online sales during the pandemic, and business is still looking up despite declining foot traffic. But shipping goods internationally has been a challenge due to hurdles added by Brexit.

“We’ve added customs paperwork and ingredients labeling,” Howie said. “But it’s the customer base that we have within the U.K. which is really quite strong, which have grown up with these sweets, and it has that little bit of nostalgia to them.”

Howie said he bought the store despite concerns about taking on a new business during the pandemic because he grew up visiting the shop.

“Whether it was my mother or my grandmother bringing me to a sweet shop, it was always like a little sweet treat that we always used to do on a, on a Saturday morning, and that really brings back a lot of memories,” Howie said.

As cities slowly lift pandemic restrictions and people venture out to physical stores again, Howie said, he’s optimistic about the shop’s future.

“The Oldest Sweet Shop stood the test of time through wars and in times of troubles, and the pandemic was no different,” Howie said. “We’re navigating out of the pandemic now, and we’re hopefully looking forward to growing even further.”

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