Who would have imagined that a credentialed medical assistant would take us on a journey back to our childhood with her shop of tantalizing treats? As odd as that may sound, Esmeralda Rojas from Susie’s Candy store was studying to work in the medicine field before finally giving in to what had been surrounding her all her life. However, knowing Esmeralda’s story reveals overtly how perfect she was for a life of sweetness. The world of candy is not something Esmeralda stumbled upon, but rather something she is very familiar with. “All my life I have grown up with candy”, she says, referring to her parent’s candy business in Mexico. Her father, Silvino Rojas, who has now been selling and making candy for about 50 years, owns two businesses that make caramelized nuts, sunflower seeds, and all types of chocolates. On top of her exposure to that industry, she worked directly in it as well, for a few summers at Lucas Candy, a famous Mexican candy manufacturer, where she outshined her peers in the sales department. “Everyone asked for me because I would make sure all the product got sold”. All things considered, it’s no wonder she knows exactly how to make Susie’s the perfect sweet treat paradise.
Susie’s Candy store has been in San Pedro since 2012 and joined us, at the Brown Brother’s Building in 2013. Since then, Susie’s offered a diverse selection of candies and drinks that provide just the right pick-me-up for any time of the day. Her selection can satisfy a wide variety of cravings from classic Mexican treats to sweet and sour candy belts and a vast selection of taffy. She has drinks to quench your thirst, and various chewing gums for the perfect refresher. This place definitely tests your willpower, so be ready to use those cheat meals.
When asked about her favorite part of the job, Esmeralda smiled as she told me “the faces of the customers when they see all the candies and don’t know what to buy”. She loves to see that a candy store is still a place that both children and adults enjoy, whether it’s their love for candy or reflecting on childhood memories. She has her own fond childhood memories in a candy shop, being just as overwhelmed and delighted as her customers are, when she would walk into her godparent’s candy store, being handed a bag and being told to fill it with whatever she wanted; yes, even more candy in her past.
Esmeralda has some specific goals for her business. She would like to expand her business to the point where she opens other branches and franchises. Her hope is to have her children: Susana (18), Franco Santos (11), and Nicole (2) continue the business, that is, assuming they would like too. And it is her children that have inspired her most exceptional aspiration. Young Franco has down syndrome and Esmeralda’s experiences with that have inspired her to create a foundation for children with this disability and their parents. She envisions a location where children make their own chocolate and sell it, and then all the proceeds would then go back into the foundation, allowing for more learning and opportunities for children and their families. She says that in her experience, parents of DS children don’t know about resources available to them and she would like to create a place where parents can get together to support each other as well as be resources for one another. Moreover, hearing about what is needed by families such as hers, this foundation would serve multiple purposes and fill unmet needs in her community. I am excited to see her realize this special dream; however, I can imagine that project is taking a back seat to her current endeavor, which is adding a whole other room/kitchen and introducing a completely new line of temptations to the candy store!
If you have been by Susie’s lately, you would have noticed all the construction going on in the back of the store, getting ready for the latest plans for the confectionary. Esmeralda and her husband are about to take it to the next level and are going to start creating homemade goodness, which include chocolate covered strawberries, candy apples, and gelato! However, as excited and anxious as we all are to start enjoying these goodies, we cannot get an exact opening date for the new addition to Susie’s because of pending inspections and contractor work, which as we all know, are unpredictable. Esmeralda did say, however, that the opening of that section of the candy store is in the imminent future, and she is just as anxious as we are to start this new endeavor of the store. Of course, don’t wait for the new kitchen to open up before stopping by. Stop by now and stop by later to make yourself twice as happy.