Friday, June 14, 2024

‘There’s no better feeling’: This brand new candy shop in Sooke is the talk of the town


The perfect stocking stuffer lives in Sooke and it sure is sweet.

Vancouver Island Premium Hard Candy (VIP Hard Candy) owners Jack Delaney and Cindy Conarroe are bringing a taste of Jack’s east coast roots to Sooke by way of hard candies, just like grandma used to make. 

They only opened mid-October and are already the go-to spot in Sooke for a one-of-a-kind candy experience. 

“In Sooke here, everything is bagged and in a grocery store,” Delaney told Victoria Buzz.

They realized that Sooke didn’t have a candy store and with the amount of tourism and the success of other niche storefronts on Vancouver Island, a hard candy store would be perfect for their community.

“I’ve been watching candy making videos for years and my grandmother used to make hard candy, and so I thought it’s a relatively simple procedure, we just need to create good flavours,” said Delaney.

“We decided to start making hard candy, open a shop, make good flavours that are geared more toward adults and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.”

“We live in a lemon, lime and strawberry flavoured world,” said Delaney.

They wanted to bring something new to the table by making flavours such as banana bread, nanaimo bars, cinnamon buns and root beer floats come to life.

Delaney says they come up with new flavours almost every day which keeps people coming into the shop regularly to see what the latest offering. He wants everyone who walks through the front door to try every flavour.

Oftentimes, he’ll be sampling his own stash right alongside you. 

“When you can make someone smile by offering them a piece of candy, you’ve done something right,” Delaney told Victoria Buzz.

“There’s no better feeling.”

The duo of candy connoisseurs spent the last couple years in semi-retirement spending their time doing research and development, honing their craft for candy making. They want their brand to become a synonymous representation of Sooke and Vancouver Island as a whole. 

Although they love having a storefront for VIP Hard Candy and interacting with other candy fanatics, their goal for this year is to make their products a tourism essential to the island by taking a wholesale approach to business. 

Delaney and Conarroe have their candy available for purchase in all seven Red Barn Markets, West Shore Foods, Village Foods, the Sugar Shack at My-Chosen Café and the Craigdarroch Castle. They are aiming to have candy bags and tins lining the shelves of all BC Ferries gift shops and the Butchart Gardens gift shop by summer as well.

Their uniquely Vancouver Island themed flavours have been the biggest hits, rooting them in the community as advocates for all things Vancouver Island. 

Some of their unique flavours are:

  • Tofino Myst – Fresh berries with cool mint
  • Shirley Delicious – Baked cinnamon bun with cream cheese icing
  • Victoria Reserve – Caramelized sweet bourbon
  • Sooke Fog – Creamy earl grey tea
  • Sombrio Myst – Honeydew melon, sweet guava and ripe pear
(VIP Hard Candy)

Anyone would assume that their clientele is mostly comprised of children who have begged their parents for a candy pit stop while running errands in Sooke but they have sweet-toothed customers from all walks of life coming through their doors on the daily.

“We have the whole spectrum coming through, from young kids that are just old enough to enjoy a hard candy to the older crowd who grew up with hard candy and everybody in between,” said Delaney.

“We have the Sooke hockey teams coming in on a regular basis, young guys between 12 and 15-years-old–they go crazy for the stuff.”

Their shop space reminds customers of a simpler time. It features a candy bar with about a dozen large jars filled to the brim with hard candy until enough samples have been given out and it empties.

Delaney or Conarroe are always behind the bar snapping tongs and trying to get you to try their favourite new flavours with a smile on their face. 

“We appreciate everybody, we love all of our customers, we love Vancouver Island and we love sharing our product,” said Delaney. 

VIP Hard Candy has only been open for a little over two months and is quickly becoming a staple of Sooke’s small businesses thanks to their kindness, humility and amazing products. 

Vancouver Island Premium Hard Candy (VIP Hard Candy)

  • Where: 6686 Sooke Rd #2A, Sooke
  • Phone: (250) 642-5945
Curtis Blandy

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