Sweets take up shop at East Main Street florist

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Peggy Kneski started selling candy from insider her Riverhead Flower Shop on East Main Street last Thursday.

Downtown Riverhead finally has its own sweet shop.

Well, sort of.

The owner of the Riverhead Flower Shop on East Main Street has dedicated almost a full wall of retail space to selling penny candies, specialty chocolates and old-fashioned favorites like rock candy and oversized lollipops.

Peggy Kneski started selling candy last Thursday ­— with the glass cabinets having arrived the night before — and thanks to the resulting stream of steady foot traffic for treats, she’s now keeping later hours, she said.

But that means more time around the treats.

“I’m not really a candy person, so I’m very lucky,” she said from inside the shop Friday.

She’s more of a sucker for baked goods.

“Thankfully it’s not a bakery,” she added. “I am worried about Blue Duck Bakery opening up right across Main Street.”

Ms. Kneski said she envisioned selling candy ever since taking over the business in April 2010. But other things needed attention first.

She expects downtown’s recent business boom to keep driving new customers in for candy. A hotel, specialty shops and several new or expanded restaurants have all come to downtown recently. Even an apartment and retail complex is being built.

“We’ll get couples from the restaurants,” she said. “And Ralph’s [Italian ices], their name speaks for itself.”

But much of her business will come from folks seeking floral arrangements.

The sweet shop is a perfect fit for a florist, she said. After all, what goes better on Valentine’s Day than candy and flowers?

People throwing weddings and Sweet 16 parties are also in need of candy. Recent party trends — such as candy buffets for Sweet 16’s — have only helped drive that demand.

“It’s extremely popular,” she said of the candy spreads for kids. “Not only that, we’re always doing weddings and parties and always had to run out and buy candy like Godiva” for various requests and arrangements.

Her in-store selection includes chocolate truffles, cordials and haystacks made at a Nassau company, as well as prepackaged brand-name products like M&M’s, Fireballs and the multi-generational favorites Bit O’ Honey and Mary Jane.

Ms. Kneski, who was born and raised in Riverhead and credits her local roots in part to her success, said she won’t be changing the name of the Riverhead Flower Shop, which has operated as such under several prior owners for years.

But she is going to order some vertical flags and other signage to make sure everyone knows that downtown Riverhead finally has its own sweet shop.

Well, sort of.

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