Making Life Sweet in Mariemont
Photography by Gary Baker
Visiting Groovy Gumball Candy Co. in Mariemont Village is an adventure in fun. Entering the brightly-colored whimsical store, you can’t help but smile. It’s more than the ambience, however, that attracts customers. The store is full of candy … quality candy!
“There are stores that you need to go to, and then there are establishments that you want to go to,” says Bridgett Karlson, owner of Groovy Gumball. “People come here because they want to have an experience.”
Groovy Gumball is definitely an experience. Karlson says people sing and dance to ‘80s music in the store. Nerdy products, such as mustaches and nerdy glasses, are popular with millennials. Customers enjoy the shop’s snarky side as well – snarky cards, snarky socks. She even sells Trump hair cotton candy. “It’s not a political statement,” Karlson says. “It’s just a funny product that’s offered by my gourmet cotton candy line.”
And then, of course, there’s the candy! “Everything is very fresh,” she says. “We buy in small batches, and we serve in small batches. Our candy bins are not filled to the top because we want it to be fresh.”
The store sells Belgian chocolate fudge, which is typically only found in Europe, and gourmet chocolates – buckeyes, turtle pecans, gargantuan dark-chocolate mints and sea-salt toffee. Karlson buys from a gourmet rice crispy treat guru. “I also make Amish truffle rosemary popcorn that is doing very well,” she says. “The secret is Amish country makes a GMO-free popcorn that uses small baby kernels before they mature. It’s more expensive to do it that way but more flavorful.”
Along with Dippin’ Dots, Groovy Gumball offers several award-winning chocolates and a curry cashew chocolate bar with a little international flare. “We buy a lot of candy from Sweden,” Karlson says. “Europe has wonderful candy ingredient guidelines.”
European candy does not contain unhealthy ingredients that are typically found in U.S. candy: high fructose corn syrup, red dye #40 and yellow dye #5. “I treat my customers the same way I treat my own children,” she says. “I want to offer them quality ingredients if I’m able to do so.”
Karlson found a family business within the Tristate area that is chemical-free conscious as well and makes, what she considers, the world’s best gummy bear! Groovy Gumball carries one sugar-free candy from Sweden. For children with gluten allergies, she enjoys pointing out the candy they are allowed to have.
Not only does Karlson want customers to enjoy quality candy, she wants them to brush their teeth too. With the support of seven local dentists, she gives a toothbrush to new customers, children on their birthday and anyone bringing in an old toothbrush to recycle.
In addition to giving every customer a free gumball, the store offers birthday goodie bags and college delivery packages, as well as corporate gifting.
The idea for Groovy Gumball started last March with a conversation between Karlson and her husband when the retail space opened up. They both agreed, “They really should put a candy shop in there,” she says. “We have four kids and have lived in Mariemont for 11 years. We understand the pulse of the community.”
Apparently they were right. Groovy Gumball opened its doors in August of last year to long lines. “We wanted to enhance our community,” she says. “I feel like we’ve done that. I’ve had people come in and thank me for opening the store.”
Karlson enjoys talking with customers and being a part of Mariemont Village and commerce.
“I have a lot of heart and soul in this store,” she says. “I really want everyone to love it as much as I do.”
Groovy Gumball is located at 6846 Wooster Pike, Mariement, OH 45227. For more information or store hours, visit www.groovygumball.com.