Sweet dreams do come true! Oak Park residents, Patrick and Alycia Mason, along with their school aged daughters Addison and Campbell, proudly opened Candycopia in the historic Medical Arts building, 717 Lake St., on Saturday June 18. The Oak Park newcomer boasts an array of thoughtfully curated treats and a menu of 11 candy-topped ice cream creations. As a bonus, a bevy of eager high school aged employees bring the colorful space to life.
“This feels like the beginning of a relationship,” said Patrick Mason. “We’ve felt support from afar and now we really have the chance to meet. We’ve wanted to be able to see everyone so it was really nice to see people in the space besides us.”
Situated just inside the front door of Candycopia, strikes an inclusive tone with a vibrant display of rainbow hued lollipops and candy to honor Pride Month – look for products from Sugarox, a proud LGBTQ+ owned company, to feature prominently in the display.
Built in shelving filled with retro candies like Abba Zaba bars, wax bottles, Necco Wafers, and Clove chewing gum beckons visitors to make their way deeper into the festive storefront. After customers feel those vintage vibes, Candycopia revels in its mission to highlight harder to find makers of small-batch caramels, marshmallows, toffee and chocolate. Their goal is to make lesser-known small batch producers, like Lily’s Chilies, XO Marshmallows and Dallas Caramel Company, household names in Oak Park.
A candy-focused ice cream menu elevates the in-store experience with employees offering sundaes topped with cotton candy, caramel corn and Pop Rocks among other sugary options. A bar boasting 100 gallon-sized apothecary jars filled with gummy candies sold by the pound is a delightfully fun addition to the shop.
Rising OPRF junior and Candycopia employee, Marin Balaz, praised Candycopia’s hiring process while doling out custom combinations of gummy candy.
“I think it’s great they have made hiring people my age a priority because it can be hard for us to find jobs,” said Balaz as she dropped juice filled bears into a bag. “And I love all candy — especially sour gummys, but I really appreciate that we offer a lot of small batch candies made by small businesses.”
The Mason family received more than 100 applications from “well qualified” high school students looking to work at Candycopia. The owners want the shop to be a place where young people can find their first job.
“There is something to the experience of growing up in Oak Park and being able to say your first job was at a candy store,” said Mason. “It is important that we represent the enthusiasm highschoolers have for what we are doing here. Everyone we hired has a can-do attitude and great smile; the rest will come easily.”
In the months and weeks leading up to Candycopia’s grand opening the Masons sold treats from a candy cart to build anticipation for their brick-and-mortar debut. Making appearances at both the Beye School end of year party and Day in Our Village allowed the owners to interact with their future customers.
“We’ve received so much support. I’d say 29 of every 30 people who came to the cart told us how much they were looking forward to our opening.” said Patrick Mason. “It has been gratifying to have everyone who helped us get here come into the shop. It’s nice to have that proof of concept.”
After hosting a few private soft opening days, Candycopia welcomed the community at large into the space featuring a festive teal, violet and magenta color palate. The product of a patchwork of community members, local designers and contractors, the Masons are proud to say Candycopia is a “100% Oak Park effort.” The family is pleased with the polished look and genuine neighborhood feel it brings to Lake Steet.
For now, the Masons are focused on getting their team up to speed and meet community demand for their sweet treats and sundaes. In time they hope to build an even more robust inventory of items from woman and diverse-owned businesses.
“We are all first timers here and we are not going to rest on our laurels,” said Mason. “Opening is step one and we are committed to learning and growing as we go.”
Candycopia is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop is conveniently located across the hall from a dentist’s office.