Katie Guthrie, Owner | Noonie Doodle
Five Minutes with Katie Guthrie, Noonie Doodle:
“We really are trying, as a company, to have candy options for all tastes. We want people to come in and have fun.“
Downtown’s sweetest new stop
I want Noonie Doodle to be the kind of store where someone can come in, plan for an event, an office party, or their child’s birthday, and find a little mini-one-stop-shop. And especially find special, unique products. Holiday gifting, birthday gifts, hostess gifts… I try to have something perfect for all those occasions. That’s really what we are catering to.
We’ve been open on Market Street in downtown Wilmington since September. We have another store on Bald Head Island that has been open for a couple years – Noonie Doodle is family-owned, not a franchise.
We own a day spa on Bald Head also. When we purchased that business we had a space within the building that was leased by someone else at the time, and when their lease was up, we were faced with the decision to either find someone to do something with it, or – it was a tiny space – we could do something for ourselves.
This new store in Wilmington is about twice the size of the store on Bald Head. It sounds crazy, and this seems really small, but it’s an expansion for Noonie Doodle.
Filling the need for something sweet
I grew up vacationing on Bald Head Island, and my family has another business out there. For us, it was a matter of looking at what the island was missing. When we were toying with other ideas, we knew we didn’t want to have to put in a restroom or sink, and the space was too small for any of that, so it made total sense to do a candy store. It was retail, and it was kid-centered. We knew that we wanted it to be kids shop. At the time, our kids were only two and four. We wanted the store to be fun, and playful, and something the island didn’t have.
That’s why we opened that shop. It was really pretty soon after that we knew we wanted to do something in Wilmington. We live in Wilmington, we shop in Wilmington, we love Wilmington. This is where we are going to raise our family. And, Bald Head is so seasonal that we found ourselves, during the off season, saying that we wished we had another stream of income. We wanted another location to address that challenge.
Grownup kids love candy, too
The island we have found very quickly is a very unique demographic. In Wilmington, we’re meeting more urban folks, but on Bald Head, we have a lot more children as customers than we do here in downtown. Or at least so far. It’s interesting to see how different the two stores are. We see kids in here, and we hope we will see more – where we are located, though, downtown, we get a lot of business people. People who are having lunch stop in, or people who live and work downtown come in. We have lot more adult customers, which is fascinating.
As the buyer and owner of the business, I’m having to buy for that type of customer for the Wilmington location. We love to answer questions about all the different candy products we carry here. People can do pick-and-mix from the bins, or choose small batch craft chocolates.
We knew that clients here would appreciate a different kind of candy store, which is why I bought for the store the way that I did. But, still, every day I’m surprised. Adults come in and they are like, “Where do I start?” I love to tell them, just have fun. Grab a bag and have fun.
Curating a candy store that fills every niche
We try really hard to have a wide selection of allergy-friendly, vegan, organic, and more health-conscious options, in addition to conventional candies. We have a whole section of vegan chocolate. And we have lots of locally made candies, which is fun and supports Wilmington businesses. We have imported candy. There are certified fair trade options, and then we also have classics like Reeses and M&M’s.
We’ve also got some fun things to buy as gifts, from handmade candy necklaces, unique party goods and paper products, and other interesting things that I thought downtown needed. I discover a lot of our suppliers on Instagram, actually. Networking to make connections with people who are doing unique things for candy lovers is fun. On Bald Head, one day I saw a little girl walking and she looked so familiar… then I realized I knew her from Instagram, and started talking with her parents who are candy makers, and we ended up picking up their product.
Does the candy store owner have a weakness?
I have a lot of favorites. If I’m craving something and I just have to have sweet – and I try to space it out so I don’t gain weight! – I usually go for chocolate peanut cups or triple chocolate malt balls… the champagne gummies are really good… it’s hard to not want everything.
Both my husband and I worked in restaurants before owning the stores. He was a professional chef, so we are very much foodies. That’s what we’re into. I love being part of the foodie community. We both taste everything here. We treat it like we would a restaurant. We know what we carry, and we know how it tastes, that’s how we are able to help our clients find the products that they will love. You don’t bring things in unless you know they are really good – that’s the rule. If something comes in and we don’t like it, we don’t re-order it. So I can really say, “it’s all good.” We try to be very discerning.