Hardy’s Sweet Shop on the Business of Nostalgia

Daniel Brower, owner of seven Hardys sweet shops has taken his customers back to a land of cough candy and bon bons by the ounce. Hardys is a retro inspired sweet retailer which has done well from the modern obsession with the “Good Old Days”. We caught up with Daniel to find out the story behind the company and how his business uses packaging to further the customer experience.

Rocaba Packaging (RB):  Can you tell us a little about how you came into the sweet industry?

Daniel Brower (DB):  Of course, I loved sweets as a child, but later ended up in fashion retail, which changed dramatically once Primark was launched. I then spent some time in the coffee business, where there is a lot of wastage on items like cakes and milk. Sweets last a lot longer and are a great opportunity to create an experience.

RB: Why is Hardys so unique?

DB:  The atmosphere, music, the packaging. I think wall to wall sweet jars create a great impression, but more importantly, you get served. At supermarkets, sweets are sold like any other item. We pay more attention to the customer; weigh out the sweets by hand and in the exact combination the customer wants. Everyone has a favourite sweet or combination of sweets, even me at 40!

RB:  I remember the wall to wall sweets of shops in the past and as a child that stays with you doesn’t it?

DB:  Yes, as a child I was impressed by the sweets on sale in corner shops and ice cream vans! The children of today love that just as much as we did and adults of course are a big part of our clientele.

RB:  Can you tell us why packaging is so important to you?

DB:  Packaging is vital. It’s a way to brand your shop. We want to get the look right. We’ve worked hard on the colours and the design but that doesn’t mean that once you’ve chosen a colour scheme that you have to keep it forever. It’s important to keep things fresh in a visual sense.

RB:  So you believe in attracting all of the senses, you mentioned music as well as packaging for instance.

DB:  With any business, it’s about how you appeal to the senses. From touch, to taste, to smell, and especially if you’re trying to build a brand, packaging is vital. My goal is that if our customer’s bag makes it all the way home, assuming they haven’t polished off the sweets, that they remember the experience of buying from us and say “it was nice going into that shop”. Another big test for me is whether people are putting another retailers’ bag into yours to carry, rather than the other way around.”

RB:  How do you want the customer to feel when they’ve been to your shops?

DB:  When they leave, if they are smiling then that’s great. I want them to remember their visit and to feel it was a nice way to spend some time. We do all we can to help customers enjoy their visit.

CP:  How do you feel the current financial conditions will affect the high street?

DB:  There are many factors affecting high street shoppers. If it’s expensive for customers to park or difficult to reach your shop, then they might not come in. Location is very important. If you keep overheads low then you can survive. We don’t have a warehouse because it’s a way for us to save on that aspect and we can still manage well without one. You have to stay on the ball in retail. It’s vital.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane, visit 25 New Row, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4LA or any of Dan’s other six shops across the UK.

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