When Miguel Vergara was a child in Puerto Rico, he used to sneak Chick-O-Sticks from his grandfather’s grocery store.
Now, the Wading River resident sells Chick-O-Sticks, a honeycombed candy filled with peanut butter and rolled in toasted coconut, at his own store, Sweet Cart Candy Shoppe, which recently opened in The Shoppes at East Wind.
“They sent me downstairs to grab a thing of milk and I used to munch on the candies,” he recalled. “That got me hooked and it never went away. I’ve always had a love for sweets.”
A retired New York Police Department detective, Mr. Vergara said he was looking for a new career opportunity that wasn’t laden with the negativity that often accompanies law enforcement.
Describing himself as a “people person” who always had an “entrepreneur spirit,” he was looking for something that would offer him the opportunity to interact with people and provide them with fun, positive memories.
“The whole reason behind it, it’s not about selling candy,” Mr. Vergara said. “It’s about creating a memory for the kids. And, of course, what better way than in front of [the East Wind grand] carousel at a place like this?”
Sweet Cart Candy Shoppe sells a wide variety of candies, including nostalgic brands that were popular years ago. These include Mr. Vergara’s favorite Chick-O-Sticks, as well as Dots, Big Hunk Candy Bar, Charleston Chew and more.
This is Mr. Vergara’s first time owning a business, which he runs with his wife, Yanira, and their children, Yvellise, Christian and Justin.
Each person plays an integral role in the business. Mr. Vergara came up with the name and logo design concept, and had help from his children to create the finished project. His daughter has also worked on the marketing and his sons man the register and take care of the computer work.
The family opened Sweet Cart’s doors Saturday to an overwhelming response, Mr. Vergara said.
“It was an incredible ‘sweet-sation,’ I call it,” he said. “It’s the interactions of seeing a smile on a child’s face, or seeing everyone come in and they’re just mesmerized and they love what we’ve done. It makes you feel good at the end of the day and it’s an incredible feeling to leave with at night and open the doors with in the morning.”
“Who doesn’t love candy?” Mr. Vergara said. “We have the combination of the right place and the right people, so I think we will be successful.”
Sweet Cart Candy Shoppe will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. You can reach the Vergaras at (631) 886-2866 or visit sweetcartcandy.com.
Sweet Cart Candy Shoppe is one of several stores that have opened recently in The Shoppes at East Wind. Other new stores include Kennelly Kouture, Galerie Des Beaux Arts and You, Me and Tea.
Additional businesses, including North Fork Fire and Ruggero’s Italian Restaurant, are expected soon at the retail complex, which opened last October.
Photo: Miguel, Christian and Yanira Vegara inside Sweet Cart Candy Shoppe.
(Credit: Nicole Smith)