A business enjoying the sweet taste of success.
For one Sidmouth business, creating the sensation of a child in a sweet shop is a real labour of love. And as Clarissa Place found out, the shop’s tasty treats are now going global.
Since coming to town in 2013, DaffyDownDilly has made its mark with bespoke and specialist sweets and fetching yellow and green decor in celebration of the famous nursery rhyme.
Owner Natalie Brittain and her father Gordon Blood were inspired by the daffodil mania that had blossomed in Sidmouth in the wake of the Keith Owen Fund and his bequest to fill the valley with a million yellow daffodils.
The Sidmouth family seized the chance to open the business and in six weeks had taken the first steps towards their vision to create a franchise of shops from their premises on the High Street.
Natalie said ‘It’s just been fantastic; we have had massive growth. We’re really lucky that we have regular customers who have become friends over the time and we have a lot of community support. We opened with American sweets. It’s just unique and there is none else in Sidmouth doing it. I knew there was an online market for American confectionery; when people go on holiday to the United States, they want to pick up something to remind them of that time in the same way you would buy chocolate pebbles or rock here.’
Walking through the door, customers are faced with more than 350 jars of sweets, chocolates, cakes and American candy, another aspect of the business Natalie has seen grow in four years. ‘When we first opened, our deliveries came in three or four boxes. They now come on tonne pallets to the front of the shop’ said Natalie. ‘I really thought that Sidmouth needed a bespoke specialist sweet shop. We have seen growth in the shop in terms of sales day-to-day. We have started the e-commerce side of the business in response to that because our holiday makers were desperate for our sweets and they weren’t here.’
Customers with a sweet tooth are now able to order their favourite treats online or in store. The shop is also seeing a growing demand in corporate and wedding orders.
Natalie said ‘It’s a huge market online for sweets, absolutely colossal. We are sending sweets around the country all the time. We have regular customers who are coming back for the same products. Even if the shop were closed you cannot stop the internet side of things down.’
The shop is also active on social media and aims to create a ‘destination’ for visitors, whether they are local or not. The 43-year-old said ‘It’s really OK to do something different. We always play music. In the summer we have disco balls and lights going everywhere and part of what has made us a destination is that we are different. It’s a party, and sweets are fun. It’s a fun place where customers feel at ease.’
She said the support of husband Rob, children Katy and Tom, mum Barbara and dad Gordon had meant that the business’ growth has not been ‘overwhelming’. From the offset, the family has worked towards the business becoming a Franchise, which allows them to sell a license to trade as a branch of their business.
Gordon himself has a proven track record as a franchisor; following a career in the army and as a charity fundraising manager, he set up his own business, which had more than 40 branches in the UK and Ireland. The 73-year-old said ‘We have a background in franchising.
The idea was to set up the shop and then franchise it but the e-commerce side has taken a priority.
‘There is such tremendous potential there so, though the intent is still franchising it’s the third phase as opposed to the second phase as we originally intended. So we are flat out developing the website and with the Amazon and Ebay sales as well which are growing. It works perfectly; with the internet and the e-commerce site, the shop is really a feeder for that, but it won’t be that long before we will have to have a separate store just for the internet.’
Alongside the growing business, Natalie is keen to help young people in the community by taking on apprentices to gain qualifications that equate to 10 GCSE’s. She said ‘For young people who perhaps do not find school the right place, it’s an alternative.’
Whatever a customer’s age, the shop aims to provide something for everyone and create a feeling of amazement as soon as they walk through the door.
Gordon said ‘It’s a lovely part of the business; everyone who comes in is having a treat – it’s not like buying socks. The kids come in excited and the parents come in excited and it’s either a treat for themselves or someone else.’
Credit to Clarissa Place at Archant.