By Indiana Nash
TROY- Amy and Ron Farrigan of Niskayuna are in the business of sweets.
Together they run Collar City Sweet Shoppe in Troy. It’s an old-fashioned candy store with novelty candy, popcorn, cotton candy and all types of chocolate.
“This has been Ron’s dream for years,” Amy said.
She often runs the day-to-day operations of the shop, while Ron works as a candy distributor for Bobrow Distributing Corporations of Clifton Park.
“That’s actually how this got started,” Amy said. Over the years of delivering candy to mom and pop sweet shops all over the northeast, Ron built up a relationship with many of the store owners.
“They’re just the happiest people. . . and they’re always so generous to Ron. They invite him over for dinner or if the weather is bad, they invite him to stay with them,” Amy said.
When one couple that he delivered to for years were retiring and found out that Ron wanted to open up a candy store, they sold their enormous candy cases to him for a fraction of what they were worth.
That generosity blew Ron away and he wanted to pay it forward with his own sweet shop.
He also happens to love candy.
“He’s always looking into the latest thing from the candy shops he goes to,” Amy said.
Most of the sweets in their shop are made by candy shops all over the northeast – from Maine to Pennsylvania.
Their famous sponge candy is created in Buffalo and the popular Turkey Joints are made in Rome, NY.
“They are unique items that can’t get really get [here],” Ron said.
The bulk of the store is self-serve.
“A lot of other candy store owners told us that it wasn’t a good idea to have that when we first started,” Amy said.
Self-serve can be messy and create waste, but Amy believes it’s worth it because it gives customers more of a sense that they are in an old-fashioned candy store.
“Kids love it and so do our regular customers,” Amy said.
The idea of running an old-fashioned candy store is also why they wanted to open up shop in Troy, rather than other Capital Region communities.
“We went to visit downtown Troy in April and when we were walking around we just fell in love with it. It feels like old New York City or something,” Amy said. By June of 2015, they had secured their street front property on 3rd Street.
“You would never be able to tell that it used to be an accountant’s’ office now,” Amy said.
Although, the building’s former use fits the mold of their regular customers, as most are lawyers, state employees or fellow accountants from the area.
“We have some customers that come in almost every day and get their regular pick-me-up,” Amy said.
With January bringing a slew of anti-sugar resolutions, the interest in sweets has slowed a bit.
“By the time February rolls around though and they’re done with their resolutions, they’ll be back in,” Amy said.
This was a tough lesson to have to learn last year when the month of January was slow and the summer didn’t bring as many tourists in as they’d hoped.
“The summer is slow too because the colleges are out and a lot of people go on vacation. . . but this year we’re going to be at Rockin on the River,” Amy said.
This will be a feat to pull off, as the concerts take place in the summer heat, which is never great for chocolate.
But the Farrigans are determined to get there, one way or another.
Possibly with the help of their two youngest sons, Thomas and Nolan who attend Iroquois Middle School.
They sometimes come in and help out around the shop, especially during some of the downtown Troy events like the Victorian Stroll in December.
But none of the Farrigans’ enthusiasm can out do Ron’s.
“Whenever he’s in here, he is so happy and is just everywhere at once,” Amy said.
It’s that enthusiasm for sweetness and running a shop that’s dedicated to making people leave with a smile (and a pocket full of confectionery treats) that has customers knocking on the shop door well before the shop is set to open and well after they close up for the day.
And it’s also what will be bringing some of the regulars back as January (or resolution month) draws to a close.