There’s no better way to shake up your senses than a trip to the sweet shop! And with colourful treats from floor to ceiling and divine smells wafting throughout, The Sweet Jar is the perfect trigger!
And whether you’re shopping with children or simply indulging your own inner-child, there’s plenty of choice! With a range of over 250 different traditional boiled sweets, fudges, ice creams and traditional seaside rock, The Sweet Jar has something to tickle every taste bud. The Sweet Jar’s bestselling boiled sweets are familiar favourites – Cola Cubes, Lemon Sorbet, and Rhubarb and Custard, and the most popular hand-made fudge flavour is a mouth-watering Sea Salt Caramel.
Owner Matt and wife Jan run The Sweet Jar, and together have two award winning shops – one located at the entrance to The Arcade in Bognor Regis, and the other nestled in the heart of Chichester. We’re eager to find out if this beautiful spot by the sea was one Matt chose specifically for its great location, and, if he always wanted to run a sweet shop.
‘This location just became available; it was a print shop before we took it on, and I was a print manager before I was made redundant. I needed a career change and needed to move quickly, and that was it! We opened our first shop in Chichester 12 years ago, and Bognor Regis not long after that.’
The shop’s beautiful, bright pink, Victorian style front can be seen from the promenade and forms an eye-catching entrance to the town centre through The Arcade. Matt clearly takes pride in the appearance of his shop, and regularly re-paints the frontage to keep it fresh and inviting.
‘It’s a great location, but in winter not so much! So, I try to look after it as best I can.’
The first thing you notice about Matt is his authenticity, his fantastic sense of humour, and his undeniable commitment to his community. And he does attribute a lot of this contentment with working in a sweet shop: ‘You can’t beat it really. It’s just a happy place to work and be – it’s a sweet shop, what more could you ask for?’
His positivity adds to the experience of visiting The Sweet Jar, and Matt embodies all the things you’d wish from someone who runs a sweet shop. During our visit, a lady calls from the doorway to ask if he has ‘her usual’ in. He didn’t; but assured her he would put them aside for when she next visits – and then proceeded to ask where her dog was! There’s a richness to this familiar and friendly relationship between local independent business owners and their regular customers – one that can’t be bought – and these interactions and relationships are what raise the high street’s bricks and mortar shopping experience above anything an online customer service can deliver.
As we talk about his customers and the local community, he has nothing but positive things to say about them. He’s a volunteer at The Regis Centre, opposite his shop and emphasises the importance of being part of your community. ‘Most people don’t know that the Regis Centre is run by 95% volunteers, including myself.’
The Sweet Jar source their products from Welsh family-owned sweet producer, Brays Sweets. ‘They’re amazing.’ Says Matt. ‘They’re always at the end of the telephone if we need them, and you get to speak to the owner of the company, which I really like. They’re one of the few remaining traditional sweet manufacturers left in the UK, and we love working with them.’
As the summer season begins after a challenging year, Matt offers some advice to other businesses based upon his own learnings,
‘Open seven days a week. And equip yourself to do so, even if you’re reluctant at times. Tourism is key for our business, and we get visitors from Butlins, but we also have a lot of regular customers that visit us over the weekend.’
It’s a trip down memory lane browsing the shelves of The Sweet Jar, and a visit here brings out the child in every shopper. You’ll be sure to leave on a high, and not just from the sugar rush!