THE RECESSION has left a bitter taste in the consumer’s mouth. Business people looking to the future and a way to make a profit in hard times are increasingly turning to sweet treats to entice customers to part with their hard earned cash.
The trend in new businesses in Kilkenny is to focus on the ‘little luxury’ market. A recent study by Retail Excellence Ireland found that cappucino’s and cups of tea are now the only luxuries that are performing well in the depressed retail sector.
With less money in the economy the focus is no longer on buying large items, but on little treats to brighten up a consumer’s day. In the last two weeks a gourmet ice-cream and coffee shop and a nostalgia sweet shop have opened in the city centre, while a milk shake bar has been performing strongly in the city centre the last few months.
Bridget Cheasty got the idea for the Shakeout Milk Shake bar after a visit to her sister in Brighton. A life long ice-cream lover, her sister brought her to a milk shake bar in Brighton where they blended chocolate bars with Ice-cream.
She wondered why we couldn’t have something similar in Kilkenny. A year and a half later she opened the doors of her own milk shake bar in the Market Cross. “It’s all about the little luxury” said Ms Cheasty,
“Making people feel better and a little bit special with out breaking the bank.” Ms Cheasty focuses on quality using fresh local ice-cream from Emily’s Ice-cream in Newpark. “Quality and word of mouth will lead to return business,” she adds.
Returning to our roots is the theme of another new business in the Market Cross. Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe is a sweet shop for adults. The manager, Jean Feaheny puts it down to people looking for something from the old world. She said “It’s a return to our roots. Adults are coming in to get the sweets that they used to buy when they visited their grand parents. It is impossible to find all of the old sweets, bullseyes, clove rock, and apple drops.” There is no shortage of them in Mr Simms behind the counter huge drums of sweets are stacked from floor to ceiling and staff in aprons weigh out Edinburgh rock and gum drops to the sound of vintage circus music. Ms Feaheny said that the average customer doesn’t really have the money to splash out on a big present, but that doesn’t mean they don’t won’t to give themselves or someone else a treat. Quality and affordable is the key to Mr Simms which is part of a franchise of nostalgia sweet shops that have opened up across Ireland. So far Kilkenny has proven to be a gold mine. They are according to Ms Feaheny “flying through stock.”
Massimo Gelato is Kilkenny’s first gourmet Ice-cream and coffee shop. The first scoop was served Saturday two weeks ago and since then business has been so good that the manager, Michael Bambrick Jr is planning on hiring a second member of staff this weekend and considering a third in the near future. Mr Bambrick is focusing on the gourmet end of the market.
He’s importing Cafe de Cuba and using gourmet product and serving Irish ice-cream from Wicklow. “We’ve been doing very well so far. It’s been flying,” said Mr Bambrick.
Located just before John’s Bridge Mr Bambrisk has been capitalising on the bustling summer tourist trade but he said that at least half of his customers so far have been locals looking for a summer treat.