Brett Sommer wasn’t allowed to have candy growing up. As a boy in the Amish country, the only sweets his parents gave him were the honey-coated, shelled pumpkin seeds made by a “kindly old grandma-type lady” who he affectionately called Mrs. Honeypeeps.
But now, as the co-owner of Mrs. Honeypeeps candy shop in Coeur d’Alene, sweets are his livelihood.
A rubber duck sits atop the gumballs filling the bathtub inside the window of his new shop, on Sherman Avenue. Inside, the store, a giant gumball machine holds up to 20,000 gumballs. And along the perimeter of his store, glass jars lining the shelves hold 250 types of candy: gumdrops, chocolate-covered espresso beans, caramels, jellybeans, candy corn, rock candy, sourballs. There are gummy brains, bears, sharks, eggs, teeth, alligators and worms.
While they’re still looking for someone to make honeypeeps for them locally, Brett and his wife, Susan Sommer, have their hands full with not only Mrs. Honeypeeps but two other downtown Coeur d’Alene retail shops. Located next door (also in the Plaza Shops), is Papillon Paper Emporium, which sells unusual cards and novel paper items. Up Sherman Avenue, Figpickels Toy Emporium carries toys dating from 1890 to today, like real-wood Lincoln Logs, tea sets, ride-’em cars, plush dolls, and even the Candy Factory for learning the art and science of making your own sweets.
“We’re here to provide the local people with really fun, affordable stores that become a destination for the entire family,” Brett says.
Brett, Susan and their two children moved from New Jersey to Coeur d’Alene in 2004 and opened Figpickels, named for Susan’s grandmother’s recipe for pickled figs, in 2005. Paper Papillon followed in 2009. They wanted to run businesses that allowed them to spend time with their two sons, both of whom have worked in the family stores.
Today, Mrs. Honeypeeps fills the niche created six years ago when another family-owned business, The Penny Candy Store, vacated the Fourth and Sherman corner it had held since the 1990s. While The Penny Candy Store featured thousands of candies from 22 countries, Mrs. Honeypeeps features mostly American products, which Brett notes are less expensive. A few exceptions are some European chocolates and licorice.
A huge seller, licorice has been surprisingly popular, the Sommers say. Besides traditional black twists, they sell fruit flavors like peach and watermelon, and an “all-sorts” style that features tiny sandwiches of licorice, pastel-colored coconut, jelly and other flavors.
But licorice, like all the per-pound candy, is priced at a flat $9 per pound.
Brett says they especially enjoy the retro items. Wax lips, candy cigarettes, Black Jack and Beemans gum. “It is so much fun to see everyone looking at the retro candy then hear them laugh and say ‘I remember that!’” Customer feedback is important and helps the Sommers fine-tune the store. They’re in the process of trying to supply Marathon bars (which were discontinued in 1981). The store will also soon feature candy-filled piñatas. And they’re already expanding their more health-conscious section of sugar-free and gluten-free treats, dried fruits and even organic candies.
Besides candies, Mrs. Honeypeeps plans to offer warm cashews, pistachios, peanuts and snack mixes, as well as gourmet caramel apples ($6) and cupcakes ($3) from local suppliers. They also plan to add a beverage menu, including fresh-squeezed lemonade ($2.25 small) and Southern iced tea ($1.25 small).
Ideal for summer, their ice cream selection includes Spokane-made Brain Freeze ice cream ($5 per pint) and assorted ice cream sandwiches, push-pops and Drumsticks. They’re also considering adding soft-serve and dipped cones to their menu.
If it’s sweet, they probably have it at Mrs. Honeypeeps. And though Brett says the store is “a work in progress,” it seems to be working.
the last three weeks, we have sold approximately 2,000 pounds of
candy,” he says. That’s about 100 pounds daily of sweets, sours,
chocolates, chewies and everything in between.
Mrs. Honeypeeps Sweet Shop • 210 Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene • Open Mon-Sat 10 am–8 pm, Sun 10 am-6 pm • (208) 667-2732