NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The latest business to open in the Norad Mill has enough candy to satisfy any sweet tooth while also evoking a sense of nostalgia.
The Norad Toy & Candy Co. opened last month on the first floor of the historic mill with towering shelves of gumballs, wafers, taffy, and chews that may have older customers recalling the sweets shop of their childhoods.
"There has been an overwhelming need in the community for a store that is reminiscent of days past," said David Moresi of Moresi & Associates, owner of the mill. "All too often you hear people saying 'when I was young there was this or there was that,' well, here it is."
Business coordinator Caroline Collins said the store offers more than 200 varieties of candy. Many retro sweets float in large glass jars — Razzles, Candy Buttons, Satellite Wafers, and Zagnuts, to name a few.
Collins said the store is a connecting point that allows parents and grandparents to follow their sweet tooth back generations. But they also have the opportunity to share this experience with their kids and grandchildren.
"Both young and old alike are loving the entire experience," Collins said. "From getting their favorite candy scooped from the apothecary jars to the kids being able to buy penny candy and have it rung up on the vintage cash register, having their picture taken with our giant sock monkey Nelson, and adults reminiscing about all their favorite candy as a kid."
The toys are of the same variety and Collins said they carry retro toys such as Tonka, Playmobil, Fisher-Price, Matchbox, Hot Wheels and others
Moresi said the store definitely has a draw, and he has talked to some folks who have driven hours to visit. He said this is a benefit to other businesses in the mill that can draw from the extra foot traffic.
"[It] brings a ton of foot traffic to the building," he said. "Our cafe business has increased threefold since the store opened. It has been so busy here we had to install a traffic light in our parking lot. Vintage of course."
He said they hope the store becomes a regional attraction and, according to sales, they are making ground.
"The ultimate goal is to make this a New England attraction and we are well on our way," he said. "Also, the amount of sales volume we did in our first week of operation was mind-blowing."
Moresi said he is happy to bring this sometimes forgotten shopping experience back to North Adams. He describes it as an example of a "living storefront," far different than big-box stores.
"People want to enjoy their shopping experience," he said. "What we have created here is an experience. There will be ever-changing window displays and we are going to have lots of fun around the holidays.
"Small business employs locals and the money goes directly back into the local economy."