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Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop offers sweet retreat

CHILLICOTHE — It may have been inspired by Willy Wonka’s famed factory, but you don’t need a golden ticket to step inside Christopher J. Beers’ world of pure imagination — also known as Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop.

“I dreamt about a candy store that was filled with candy from floor to ceiling — filled with the hard-to-find candies from all over the world,” Beers said. “I wanted my candy store to be an experience and not just a regular shop.”

Beers, a 15-year restaurant industry veteran with an “obsession” for Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka), Peter Ostrum (Charlie) and Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe), opened the first Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop in Pittsburgh’s Strip District in 2012. As of April 2019, he has added seven more locations throughout Ohio (Chillicothe, Miamisburg, Middletown and Troy) and Pennsylvania (Beaver, Mt. Lebanon, Stroudsburg).

“The assortment of over 265 varieties of glass-bottled soda, practically every candy bar still made, our handcrafted chocolates and our huge collection of bulk candy are in each of our locations,” Beers said. “It’s really important for us to have an active role in each community. We find a way to say yes to every single donation request we receive. We attend business partnership meetings and planning meetings. We sponsor some community organizations as well,” Beers said.

The Chillicothe location opened in 2017 in the former Lloyd’s Sweet Shoppe.

“I found Lloyd’s Sweet Shoppe — a candy store that was in Chillicothe for 45 years — listed for sale on a business website. I contacted the owners and made them a deal to keep the tradition of Lloyd’s alive,” Beers said. “Chillicothe has welcomed us tremendously. We had over 100 people in line when we first opened our doors. The store was packed for weeks, every single day, from opening to closing, with customers. It has truly been amazing. Families have had a tradition of going to the candy store on West Water Street for decades, and that tradition continues today with Grandpa Joe’s.”

From the odd, like Pickle Flavored Cotton Candy (“It’s been a tremendous success,” Beers said.) to the classic, like Necco Wafers, to the more mainstream candies like M&M’S (in various varieties), Grandpa Joe’s has something to satisfy any sweet tooth. And, if you have a hard time choosing, there’s the World Famous $5 Candy Buffet, which removes the hassle of weighing out    your selections.

“I really enjoy when a customer comes into our shop and asks for a product that they haven’t had in years, or can’t find anywhere. Usually, we have the item they’re looking for and their reaction is always priceless. I think our customers love the nostalgic feeling we offer. As children, regardless of where they grew up, they had a special store that they went to get candy. We’re bringing back that feeling,” Beers said.

In addition to their candies, Grandpa Joe’s has a vast selection of “all that crazy carbonated stuff that tickles your nose” — sodas in all sorts of flavors like birch beer, sasparilla, buffalo wing and bacon — and an eye-catching array of wacky gifts, which range from Bob Ross bobbleheads and Ruth Bader Ginsburg socks to giant crying baby masks.

“Customers are always amazed and not prepared for the volume of inventory that we have. We add some little details like our slinkies and rubber chickens hanging from the ceiling to enhance the experience,” Beers said. “We really want our customers to slow down for a minute, relax, and have some fun looking at the candies from the past and the unique gifts that really make everyone laugh. They know we have gifts for just about anyone in our shop and they’re all things you won’t find at a big box store.”

Looking ahead, Beers has high hopes for Grandpa Joe’s growth — as a company and the Chillicothe       store itself.

“We’ve got 900 square feet right now, and I’d love to get 1,800 square feet. We have some other ideas that we’d love to cram into our shop, but those are a secret. So, you’ll just have to wait,” Beers said. “However, if one of our loyal fans is headed on a road trip, they should check the map and stop into one of our other locations. We hear so many times that people drive over two hours just to visit one of our stores. The loyalty of our customers, and their excitement about our shop is very rewarding. I couldn’t be happier.”

Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop is located at 22 W. Water St. in Chillicothe. Current hours of operation are Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. For more information, visit grandpajoescandyshop.com (online ordering is available) or call 740-773-7100. Find them on Facebook: @grandpajoescandychillicothe or @grandpajoes on Facebook and Instagram.