New Oakland shop offers old-timey sweets in bulk

New Oakland shop offers old-timey sweets in bulk

By Kathleen Fennell | Staff Writer

Although Jon Weston’s charm suited him well when he was a high-level executive, he left the corporate world because he thought big businesses focus too much on the bottom line.

“The small business, I just like it because I have one partner — my wife,” Weston said. 

Weston, 50, opened his shop, Katie’s Kandy, on Meyran Street last week. He has run his original shop, bearing the same name inspired by his youngest daughter, Katie, in Homestead for the past 3 1/2  years.

Weston has hired five Pitt students to staff the new store. He started looking to expand into either Downtown or Oakland about a year ago. 

Katie’s Kandy is known for its nostalgic candy such as Sixlets and Zero bars. Weston chooses to carry these candies instead of the M&M’s and Snickers bars of typical candy aisles. 

“What I like the most about it is that no one comes in here in a bad mood. Everyone comes in, they’re happy,” Weston said. 

Customers also have their choice of 225 different bulk candy items that can be purchased for $5.99 per pound. Variations of gummies make up 150 of these items, featuring peach-flavored gummies shaped like penguins and gummy chicken feet that taste like Swedish Fish along with a variety of other shapes and flavors. 

Next to the entrance, a wall of shelves holds throwback candy in vibrant wrappers and pinatas on the top shelf. Plexiglas bins full of colorful bulk confections line the right wall with silver scoopers to fill clear plastic bags. In the back corner, a freezer holds large bins of ice cream with cardboard lids next to a glass case full of designer chocolates arranged in neat rows. 

The store also sells Jelly Belly, Asher’s Chocolates, Galler Belgian chocolate and a variety of ice cream flavors. Shannon Scott, a sophomore speech pathology major at Pitt, started working at Katie’s Kandy about three weeks ago. She said the shop will eventually offer snow cones as well as candy. 

Scott said that since she has started working, she’s noticed that older people gravitate toward the traditional candy while students tend to buy the bulk desserts. Her favorite, though, is the chocolate and peanut-butter buckeyes. 

The most expensive items available in the store are fashionable French chocolate shoes designed to look like women’s high heels, costing between $29 and $39. 

“I was at the Sweets and Snacks convention,” Weston said. “It’s every May, and basically every candy manufacturer in the world goes there … I was walking by, and I was thinking why are they selling shoes at a candy convention? The second day I go over there, and I look, and it’s actually chocolate.”

Weston studied accounting at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Cailf., then worked startups at Deloitte Haskins & Sells where he transformed Wet Seal into a publicly traded company and eventually held the position of vice president of finance for Hillandale Farms. He moved to Pittsburgh 20 years ago, deeming Los Angeles unsuitable for raising his three children, and retired from his career in big business five years later at the age of 35. Since then, he has owned car washes and other businesses, but he said that Katie’s Kandy is what he enjoys most. 

He and his wife have been married for 23 years, and Weston says that his wife loves the candy store and that his children frequently help out at the business. 

He opened Katie’s Kandy in a building in Homestead, where he previously rented the space to other companies. 

Though it’s been open less than a week, Katie’s Kandy has already found its first regular customer in Lorin Grieve, a final-year graduate student at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, who has already visited the store four times. He has a rotation at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, so he walks by the shop every day on his way home, and his favorite after-work treat is a chocolate covered pretzel, which he says he has a weakness for. 

“I think it’s mainly because I have really poor impulse control when it comes to candy … My roommate is actually a regular down at the old store, and when he told me that they were moving up here, I was sure to be here the first day,” Grieve said.