Necco Wafers, Double Bubble, SweeTarts, Pop Rocks, Mallo Cups. Charleston Chew, Toxic Slime, malted milk balls, Swedish Fish, licorice, gummies and gumballs—their very names transports of delight to a time and place, the sweetness of childhood memories held inside their wrappers.
The treats are sweet at the newly opened Mrs. Robinson’s Sweets & Treats at 131 East State Street in Kennett Square, but the stories might be sweeter still.
Those stories begin with this fresh, happy space that seems, if a place can be said to hold its own kind of magic, to have been waiting to become a candy shop. “I’ve always loved the storefront at 131 East State Street,” says Marlene Robinson, who is also the owner and multi-talented curator of the adjacent Mrs. Robinson’s Tea Shop. “Its unique window has such old-world charm that when I had the chance to rent it, I couldn’t resist. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I just knew it deserved a special story for its next chapter. The idea to turn it into a candy shop seemed to fit nicely with tea, and after consulting with my favorite focus group of family and friends, who all agreed, it became Sweets & Treats.”
The space has been transformed into a sensory wonderland of bright colors, sweet aromas, and nostalgic flavors. “Everyone who comes in smiles—from the oldest to the youngest,” says Marlene’s business partner, Doug Rae.
Doug laughs as he describes the space they started with in January, with its multiple rooms and floor levels. “It didn’t look anything like a candy store,” he says. While he tore the place apart—removing walls, creating new floors, and raising the ceiling to expand and make the most of its small footprint—Marlene worked behind the scenes to research the products and vendors, craft the concept, design the floor plan, and hone all of the details, large and small, that create such a magical experience.
“Doug saw the potential in the space,” Marlene says. And the vision, Doug says, is all Marlene’s. “I wanted to give Marlene the space she needed so she could bring her beautiful vision to life,” he says. The other essential collaborators in the project are landlords Dave Torelli and Steve Warner. As owners of their own legendary and long-standing Kennett Square businesses, Torelli’s Custom Shop and the Kennett Inn, both men have been invested for decades in helping Kennett Square to thrive. “We’re very grateful to Dave and Steve, two amazing landlords who allowed us to reimagine what it could be and connect the two shops,” says Marlene.
Tea shop customers have been delighted to find this portal between the two shops, and employees are making the most of it, too. For example, Kenny, who works at the Tea Shop, is taking seriously his new responsibility to eat the broken gumballs.
Sweet treats you won’t find anywhere else
“We carry treats you won’t find anywhere else,” Doug says. “Marlene is meticulous about finding the perfect items that taste as good as they look.”
“Sweets & Treats is an old-fashioned candy shop with both nostalgic candy and new favorites,” Marlene says. The shop also stocks international candy from countries including Germany, England, Japan, and France. Chocolates from Germany include Marlene’s favorite chocolate Ice Cubes. Other specialties include fresh fudge made especially for the shop, petit fours, Rice Krispie treats made with Marlene’s family recipe, and a marvelous, mouth-puckering selection of sour gummies. Doug often texts his grandchildren for expert advice on what to carry. “If my grandkids mention something, we’re probably going to carry it,” he says. He’s also happy to take customer suggestions.
A unique selection of sodas includes Ramune Japanese Soda, also called “marble soda” because the ball inside the bottle holds the carbonation, as well as root beer, which is displayed next to the candy cigarettes. There’s a refrigerator with cold drinks, too.
Speaking of cool treats for the hot summer days ahead, “We’re also serving the iconic and one-and-only Dole Whip Soft Serve,” Marlene says. “Originally served in Disney World, this non-dairy, gluten-free dessert has a well-deserved cult following and is a must-try!”
“The Dole soft serve product is definitely a flavor that makes people think about their vacations,” says Dole sales broker Kristin McIlvaine. “It is an iconic pineapple taste! I’m glad that Mrs. Robinson’s reached out to me to provide some samples and start them up. After visiting the shop, I fell in love with the whimsical look and hand-picked candies and sweets. I think that the soft serve will fit right in with the unique items that both the tea shop and candy shop offer to visitors in historic Kennett Square. It’s not your average candy shop, for sure.”
The pretty new outdoor seating area invites customers to enjoy their sweet treats as they watch the world go by in the heart of the small town Marlene likens to Stars Hollow or a picture-perfect small town out of a Hallmark movie.
Doug, who traveled the world as a musician before landing in Kennett Square, grew up near Pittsburgh. The nearest shop was a gas station on Robbins Station Road, a bicycle trip away. He laughs as he describes figuring out the best penny-candy value for his small weekly allowance and riding home clutching the bag against the handle bar, the precarious act of fishing out the next piece of candy as he pedaled, and perfecting the art of drawing in the licorice shoelace hanging out of his mouth. “The bag was mostly empty by the time I got home,” he says. Today, Kennett Square’s favorite candy man has a soft spot for anything milk chocolate with nuts or coconut and is more likely to be seen enjoying a Mounds or Bounty bar than a bag full of gummies.
Marlene recalls growing up in a North Philadelphia neighborhood where Saturdays were spent shopping on 5th Street. “I have fond memories of walking there each week to spend my allowance and come home with a treat. In just a few weeks, it has been a joy to see our Kennett Square children come in and find their treasured treat while adults find a nostalgic candy that meant something to them. Already, the conversations in the shop surrounding these treasured shared memories have been rich and very special.”
“I hope you feel at home here,” Marlene says. “I hope it makes you happy to find something familiar but also presents you with something new and unique. Whether you are a Kennett Square resident or a lucky traveler who discovered our remarkable town, I hope you leave with a new treasured memory . . . and a little treat.”
Mrs. Robinson’s Sweets & Treats invites everyone to savor sweet memories—and to tell new stories. “The shop is one new chapter, and there are more to come,” Doug says.
Photos by Dylan Francis