Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop offers nostalgia, wonder to downtown Springfield

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A taste of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory now calls Springfield home.

Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop, known for its candy buffet and walls of both unique and bizarre soda flavors, opened its 101 W. High St. location on Thursday.

Potential customers lined up to enter the shop Thursday afternoon. Grandpa Joe’s owner Chris Beers said hundreds of people checked out the store on its first afternoon.

The Springfield shop features additions that no other shop has, Beers said, including an installation of a Simpsons-inspired orange couch as a nod to the other, fictitious Springfield.

Shop-goers, too, can find mystery canisters of treats being delivered to customers through a pneumatic air system, shooting pods of candy across the ceiling in stretches of tubes.

“Our customer base in smaller downtowns has really embraced Grandpa Joe’s,” he said.

Greater Springfield Partnership president and CEO Mike McDorman said the addition of Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop to the city’s downtown is a large retail opportunity for the city and a part of the revitalization of downtown.

“We’ve all seen the energy that has been sparked,” McDorman said.

But really, it will also be an opportunity for families. McDorman compared the Springfield shop to a “Willy Wonka” experience.

Fitting, as the 1971 film plays on a screen in the back of the shop during the day.

Customer Zo Napier said when she first moved to Springfield from Florida several years ago, she found herself leaving the area often to shop, eat and more. But over the past few years, she’s seen a change.

“I think it’s super cool to have things to do in town now,” she said, clutching a container of pickle-flavored cotton candy.

Grandpa Joe’s has locations in Troy, Middletown, Chillicothe, Miamisburg and Cuyahoga Falls, and it also operates stores in Florida and Pennsylvania.

Customers have told Beers they love the nostalgia and fun surrounding his stores, and they’ll drive for miles to stop into a Grandpa Joe’s shop to pick up a unique item. A couple he talked to in one of his locations told him they traveled from a different state to acquire ketchup-flavored soda, for example, Beers said.

Customers like Mike and Sharon Maine also come to the shop for a bit of nostalgia. The couple said they wanted to check out the shop for themselves on Thursday before bringing their grandkids with them another time.

Sharon Maine said candy shops of yesteryear were where she and others would go for penny candy, cashing in glass soda bottles and more.

The bubblegum cigars and Turkish Taffy she saw on the store’s shelves reminded her of her childhood, she said.

“I haven’t seen some of this stuff since I was a kid,” she said.

The shop will also be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The shop will be open seven days per week, according to the business.

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