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What’s Billed As First Candy Department Store Finds a Home Sweet Home


American Dream, the latest type of U.S. mall, is preparing to welcome a 60-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty made entirely of candy. Property owners are watching to see if it marks a new frontier in retail property.

The $5 billion mega entertainment-shopping complex in New Jersey, scheduled to open Oct. 25 amid a struggling retail industry, is focused on experiences shoppers won’t get anywhere else. That focus by the country's newest mega-mall shows where retail properties may be headed if American Dream proves successful in coming years.

The latest is It'Sugar, a retailer touting what it says is the first candy department store concept, leasing 22,000 square feet over three levels, making it the “world’s largest” nonmanufacturer candy store featuring over 10,000 kinds of candy, according to Jeff Rubin, founder, CEO and "chief gummy bear" of It’Sugar.

“This concept has been a dream of mine for over 25 years and our It’Sugar team is thrilled to partner with American Dream to finally make it a reality,” he said in a statement. Shops are expected to showcase popular brands such as Sour Patch Kids, Oreo, Nerds, Reese’s, Peeps, Pez and Starburst.

American Dream is based on the idea that retailing needs to provide experiences, or entertainment, to compete with online shopping. As a result, the mall is 55% entertainment and experiences and 45% retailing. Analysts say that should this approach work, other malls that are already looking to add non-retail elements such as rock climbing and escape rooms will accelerate this movement to have more entertainment to draw foot traffic.

It'Sugar, started in 2006 with one store on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, calls itself the largest specialty candy retailer in North America. It has more than 100 retail locations in 26 states, with stores in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Chicago. The company, based in Deerfield Beach, Florida, is owned by BBX Capital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Candymakers have long invested in experiential retail stores in high-traffic areas, such as M&M'S World in New York City's Times Square.

The first M&M's World location was a 28,000-square-foot, four-level store that opened in 1997 at the Showcase Mall in Las Vegas. The M&M’s World in Manhattan leases about 58,000 square feet, according to CoStar data, though that figure could include retail, inventory and office space. It is the largest candy store in New York. Chocolate giant Hershey has a 7,000-square-foot store in Times Square as well.

American Dream, being developed by Canadian real estate firm Triple Five with 3 million square feet in East Rutherford, will feature more than 450 stores and about 15 entertainment offerings, including the fully enclosed DreamWorks Water Park and Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park. It’Sugar will be located within American Dream's entertainment atrium, adjacent to the water park entrance and near the Nickelodeon park and the venue's NHL-sized ice rink.

The mall’s tenants include H Mart, the fast-growing Asian American market, which has agreed to lease more than 35,000 square feet.

The original article can be viewed here.

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