Is there anybody out there who doesn’t sometimes crave a nice chocolate, a bit of licorice, or a handful of jellybeans? Probably not, because the global candy market is worth $190 billion.
Clearly, candy is not just for kids or Halloween. It comes in a vast array of types, shapes, and sizes, and candy stores are like paradise to children and adults alike. If you have a passion for sweets, you could open your own candy store and make countless people happy while making a good living at the same time.
Of course, you’ll need to do more than watch Willy Wonka to know how to run a candy store. Lucky for you, this step-by-step guide has all the sweet bits of information you’ll need to build your own candyland of sugary delights.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
Starting a candy store has pros and cons to consider before you decide if it’s the right path for you.
- Spread Joy – There’s a reason they say “Like a kid in a candy store!”
- Be Creative – Invent unique candies and treats
- Good Profit – Margins on candy made are high
- High Startup Costs – Equipment and a good location don’t come cheap
- Competitive Market – Nearly every store sells candy
Candy store industry trends
Candy is part of the broader confectionery market, which was worth nearly $190 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand more than 25% to $240 billion by 2028. That steady growth offers an excellent opportunity for bold entrepreneurs.
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – US candy producers took in $12 billion in 2022 after a steady growth of 1% per year since 2017.
- Growth forecast – The US candy market is predicted to grow 5% annually through 2025.
- Number of businesses – Around 1,400 candy producers are operating in the US.
- Number of people employed – The industry employs nearly 25,000 people.
Trends and challenges
Candy trends include:
- Chocolate is always popular, and chocolate’s share in the candy market has been steadily growing. Exotic flavors are also trending, such as chocolate with bacon, salt, or a spicy twist.
- Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainably made candy and want transparency in terms of sourcing and manufacturing.
- Candy, as with most things, is increasingly being purchased online, presenting an opportunity for an online candy business.
Candy store challenges include:
- High inflation has led to increases in the prices of ingredients, cutting into profit margins and forcing candy stores to raise prices.
- Customers are demanding more variety, putting pressure on candy stores to go beyond traditional types of candies. This is an opportunity as well as a challenge.
- Average consumer spend – US consumers spent $3 billion on candy for Halloween in 2021.
- Potential customer base – Almost all (99%) US households buy chocolate or candy at least once a year.
- Average prices – In 2019, candy was sold for $2.27 each for chocolate and $1.88 each for non-chocolate.
What kind of people work in candy stores?
- Gender – Half of store owners in the US are female.
- Average level of education – Half of store owners hold a bachelor’s degree.
- Average age – The average age of a store owner is 44 years old.
How much does it cost to start a candy store business?
Startup costs for a candy store range from $6,500 to over $20,000. The low end is for an online candy store, and costs are mainly for candy making equipment. The high end is for opening a brick-and-mortar candy store and includes the space rental and space preparation.
You’ll need to be an excellent candy maker, so you might want to take an online course, such as from Chocolate Academy, and learn the latest in candy making.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your candy store business, including:
- Candy thermometers
- Pots and pans
- Baking sheets
- Mixing bowls
- Packaging supplies
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Setting up a business name and corporation||$150 - $200||$175
|Business licenses and permits||$100 - $300||$200
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250
|Website setup||$1,000 - $3,000||$2,000
|Deposite on candy store space||$0 - $5,000||$2,500
|Space preparation and decor||$0 - $5,000||$2,500
|Candy making equipment||$5,000 - $7,000||$6,000
|Total||$6,550 - $21,100||$13,825
How much can you earn from a candy store business?
The average price for a box of chocolates is $15. Your profit margin for a candy store with a physical location should be about 40%. For an online store, it will be about 90%.
In your first year or two, if you sell 200 boxes a week online, you’ll be bringing in over $150,000 in annual revenue. This would mean a profit of $135,000, assuming that 90% margin. As your store builds a reputation, you could open a physical store and sales could climb to 500 boxes a week. Your profit margin will fall to 40%. With annual revenue of nearly $400,000, you’d make a cool $160,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a candy store. Your biggest challenges will be:
- Competing in a saturated market
- Making great candy that will make your business stand out
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a candy store, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research candy stores in your area to examine their products, price points, customer reviews, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a candy store with locally-sourced ingredients.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as exotic candies, like salted blueberry chocolate.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You should make a list of all the candies you’ll make. In addition to just candies, you could make candy gift baskets, decorative boxes, and more. You could also buy candy from wholesalers and sell them at a markup.
How much should you charge for candy?
You’ll need to research prices in your area for various types and quantities of candies. Your cost to make them will be the cost of your ingredients, plus rent and overhead. You should aim for a profit margin of about 40%.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be broad, so you should spread your marketing efforts out to various social media sites including TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and even LinkedIn.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home and sell online only to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to rent out a storefront. Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “candy” or “chocolate”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to candy stores.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your candy store will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your Articles of Organization, and answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a candy store business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept for your store, or if you want to grow into a larger candy manufacturer.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a candy store requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
You may need the following, depending on the requirements in your area:
- Food service license
- Food handler’s permit
- Building health permit
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your candy store business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You can use industry-specific software, such as Poster, Brilliant, or Bepoz, to manage your purchasing, inventory, sales, and payments.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence, and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- Sponsor events – Pay to be a sponsor at relevant events.
- Post a video – Post a video about your candy. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Limited edition – Offer a one-time version of your candy.
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Press releases – Do press releases about new candy products.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
- Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your candy. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your candy store meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your candy store business could be:
- Unique chocolate creations to make your taste buds tingle
- Support your community by buying locally-sourced candies
- The best homemade candies you’ve ever had!
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a candy store, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in candy for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in candy stores. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.
Step 12: Build Your Team
Potential positions for a candy store business would include:
- Store Clerks – make sales, customer service
- Candy Makers – assist with making and packaging candy
- Marketing Lead – staff management, ordering, accounting
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
You could be like a kid in a candy store – literally! For some people, candy is the sixth food group and an essential part of life, so tasty treats will always be in demand. You just need to make yours delicious and unique enough to gain attention in a $190 billion industry.
If the startup costs faze you, just start with an online shop, make some money, build your reputation and eventually open a physical location. And then maybe another, and another. Your candy could become the treat every kid wants at Halloween. You’re off to an auspicious start by learning the business, so get ready to make your way to sweet entrepreneurial success.
Candy Store Business FAQs
How much does it cost to start a candy store?
You can start an online candy shop for as little as $6,500. Your biggest costs will be ingredients, equipment and a website.
Are candy stores profitable?
Yes, candy store profit margins are relatively high, as people are willing to pay good money for fine candies. You need to have good, unique products and a good location, and you’ll soon have customers coming back for more.
Do I need a license to start a candy store?
You may need a food service license, a food handler’s permit, and a building health permit, depending on the requirements in your area. You may also need various business licenses and permits at the state and local levels. Check with your local governments for requirements or visit MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance page.
What kinds of candy are most popular?
Chocolate is always at the top of the list, and uniquely-flavored chocolates are particularly popular. People are also demanding sustainably produced candy, so if you have a candy store, make your candy onsite with locally-sourced ingredients and you’ll likely draw a lot of patrons.