Multitudes of candy, drinks, cups and various novelty items are sold at Sweet Memories. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
By EMILY WALOS
Many small local shops line the historic State St. in Redlands, California, but the candy store Sweet Memories stands out as a true time capsule.
Sweet Memories is located at 24 E State Street in Redlands, CA. (Ethan Dewri/ Ethic Photo)
Originally a distributor of mostly toys and candy, the small 700-square-foot store welcomes all ages of shoppers as its mission is to create “memories, fun, and good times,” according to store co-owner Steven Wilkinson. Today, Sweet Memories primarily sells candy, but they have added many novelty items such as their best-selling socks, which can be found in the very back of the store.
In the past, Sweet Memories was owned by Jim and Janene Klocekon and located on 6th Street; but, after only a year of business, the couple was struggling to keep the doors open. One market night, Steven Wilkinson happened to meet Janene Klockon and listened to her story about the store and its uncertain future.
Steven Wilkinson, an owner of Sweet Memories in Downtown Redlands, manages and works at his store, Nov. 10, 2019 at Sweet Memories, Redlands, CA. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
“She was a realtor and wanted to open a candy shop, [but] she didn’t know where to get candy or toys,” said Wilkinson. At the time, Wilkinson had been working as a candy distributor for many major theme parks and candy shops, and this background in the candy business certainly aided in the current success of the shop.
When new co-owners took over Sweet Memories, they started with nothing—even resorting to taping inventory boxes together to create the illusion of plentiful stock. But over time a change in location from 6th St. to State St. and a new focus on solely candy (not candy and toys), the small store was able to grow and start a small chain. The second Sweet Memories store is located in the High Desert, and is more than twice the size of the original.
Amanda Li (left) and Ronald Miller pick and choose candy from Sweet Memories’s vast collection, Oct. 27, 2019 at Sweet Memories, Redlands, CA. “My favorite aspect of the store is the candy and I love Sour Patch Kids,” says Miller. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
Sweet Memories prides itself on its strong community involvement; it is common to see the shop’s owners sponsor local high school athletes from all three Redlands schools and a variety of sports. During the holiday season, the shop opens its doors to the people of Redlands Annual Christmas Parade.
Sophia Cantuba, student at Citrus Valley, picks out a Bob Ross “Happy Little Trees” tin sign souvenir from the shop, Oct. 27, 2019 at Sweet Memories, Redlands, CA. (Ronald Miller / Ethic Photo)
The candy shop is geared towards fostering an welcome environment for all generations with its decor and stock representing many past decades. For Wilkinson, his favorite part of the job is constantly meeting new people and the feeling he gets when he hears shoppers come in and exclaim “Oh my God! I haven’t seen that since I was a little girl or boy.”
Although the store is furnished to appeal to adults and their nostalgia, teenagers are also drawn to the store for its many unique items such as uncommon sodas.
Aiden Sobl (left) and Chloe Copeland, seniors in the Redlands Independent Study Education program, look for candy and soft drinks, Nov. 10, 2019 at Sweet Memories, Redlands, CA. “My favorite candy is Razzles and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups,” says Copeland. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
Chole Coplend and Aiden Sobl, both students in Redland’s RISE program, stated that they “get [their] favorite soda” from Sweet Memories and they greatly enjoy the shop’s many “special drinks.”
Sweet Memories on State St. welcomes all ages as the unbridled excitement of visiting a candy store is a timeless experience and one sure to bring back or create sweet memories.
Katera Lee (left) and Camille McKenna, college students, explore Sweet Memories to get feel for Downtown Redlands, Nov. 10, 2019 at Sweet Memories, Redlands, CA. “I decided to show this place to Katera to get her more comfortable with the city’s vibe,” says McKenna. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)