Julia Murray/candy

KCBS Radio/Carrie Hodousek

'Disneyland Of Candy Stores' Goes Out Of Business

Carrie Hodousek
April 30, 2019 - 11:12 am

BURLINGAME (KCBS Radio) — The ease and convenience of online shopping has claimed another small brick and mortar victim — and left a sour taste in the mouth of the owner of Burlingame's Retro Sweets Shoppe.

A message taped to the shop's window and posted on the store's website reads in part "Thank You! Unfortunately, Retro Sweets can no longer keep up with the changing retail climate and we have to shut our doors." 

"This is almost an epidemic, what's happening here," said store owner Julia Murray, who's closing up her shop after 11 years in downtown Burlingame. 

But it's not that people have lost their taste for the products she sells. It's that the whole retail game has changed -— and online retailers and big box stores, in Murray's view, are winning.  

"Big stores sell a lot of the basic things we have," she said. "And if you're already in that store, it's just convenient to buy that product." 

The “Disneyland of candy stores” is closing. Retro Sweets, with its selection of hard-to-find candy and mini-movie theater, in Burlingame is going out of business. Owner Julia Murray tells KCBS Radio that she can’t compete with online retailers. Hear her interview with @radiocarrie in the On Demand section of KCBSRadio.com.

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The proliferation of online sellers, meantime, has darkened Murray's outlook even more. "I mean my concern is, are people just really not going to leave their homes?" she mused. 

In happier days, Retro Sweets was packed with kids and adults — the latter often hankering for memories of their youth, with both new and old fashioned candy products taking up space on the shelves. 

"I have young kids who recognize things - and then I have candies from as far back as the fifties that people remember," said Murray.

But candy wasn't the only item at Retro Sweets. The shop also sold small gifts and novelties, ice cream and sodas, and hosted birthday parties, complete with scavenger hunts.

"We've been referred to as the Disneyland of candy stores," said Murray. Like the proverbial cherry on top, it had a mini movie theater, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory playing on repeat, and other movies occasionally making an appearance. "For Valentine's Day, I played Lady and the Tramp," she said. 

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A trip to Retro Sweets was as much about making memories as it was about the goodies. "Honestly the main thing we're selling is the atmosphere, where grandparents can introduce their grandkids to things they experienced," Murray said. "That's what's difficult about leaving. I'm leaving such a large audience, you come in and it brings families together."

Retro Sweets' last day of business was April 26. Now, the theater is quiet and dark, and the jellybeans, gummy worms, M&Ms and other treats are packed away in ziploc bags and boxes, ready to be moved.

The notice of closure posted on the shop's website also includes a special message for Retro Sweets fans. "We can't thank you enough for all your support these past 11 years," it reads. "You guys have been GREAT customers!"

Written by Diana Shook 

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