Jacksonville Chocolatier and Candy Maker: Sweet Pete's

July 26, 2014 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

EatDrinkJax.com interviews Allison Behringer of Sweet Pete's. The Natural and Organic Candymaker enjoying national attention (and a little extra capital) from Reality Television.

31. Did anything about the show really surprise you?

We’ve been shocked by the feedback. I love The Profit and I watch it all the time but I had no idea how many other people watch that show. People from all over the country are stopping by when they pass through Jacksonville because they saw us on The Profit. The first week after the show our phone was ringing off the hook. And we got all sorts of calls. People would tell us about being in business and losing their business. Others just wanted to call to say that they were so supportive of us or were so happy to see people work hard and make it. We’ve been inundated with those kinds of emails and phone calls.

32. Did Marcus bring any ideas to you that you really didn’t like? And what was his reaction if you pushed back?

Marcus is definitely open to discussing ideas. It was never “my way or the highway” for any of us. We’re involved with him in all the major discussions. The biggest controversy we had with Marcus was around the location of the new store. For obvious reasons Marcus wanted to be in a really mainstream location that already had a lot of foot traffic - somewhere like the St. Johns Town Center. For Pete and I, having been in Springfield, we really felt like we were part of something and that opening our store in Springfield had really made a difference. We live in that area too and it was really important to us to do something in the area. We were really passionate about staying closer to downtown and on every visit Marcus made that was a major topic of discussion. It wasn’t until his final visit that we convinced him.

See the Future Home of Sweet Pete's

33. How did you convince Marcus to locate Sweet Pete’s downtown?

Originally we had pitched the Seminole Club to Marcus and he turned it down because it was too big and he couldn’t work the numbers to substantiate such a large presence downtown. He really wanted to go to the Town Center but we kept pressing and pressing for downtown. He finally came back and said that we were so passionate about it that he didn’t think we’d have our hearts in it if he forced us to be anywhere else. That’s when he really focused on making downtown work. Because internet sales are such a big component for us that gives us a cushion in case the retail sales don’t work out the way we hope. That helped a lot to convince Marcus about downtown. Once the show aired our internet sales went crazy and they’ve stayed high. We’ve also gotten a lot of class requests. All of a sudden Marcus was worried that the 10,000 square foot space we’d been looking at on Forsyth might be too small and we might grow out of it too quickly. Marcus sent someone from his team to start looking for larger spaces downtown. That person, with no input from us, came across the Seminole Club. He sent us a text asking what we thought of the Seminole Club and what we knew about it. We were thinking “is this a joke?” So, it worked out perfect for us.

34. Can you tell us about the mobile candy truck that Marcus surprised you with on the show? Was it really a surprise?

We didn’t know about it at all so we were really surprised. We’d heard some hints that there might be a Sweet Pete’s car, but they were just rumors. We’d been sharing an old, used car, so this was a really big deal for us.    

35. Is the mobile truck live now?

It will be soon. The truck had all the major things in it that we needed but we had to add equipment for ice cream and cotton candy. We’re just getting time to breathe now so that we can concentrate on finishing the truck. Our goal is to have it out at a festival by the end of June [2014].

36. Will the truck be mostly based around Jacksonville or will it tour around the country?

It’ll mostly be in Jacksonville at festivals and for people to book for parties. But we’ll definitely take it on the road too.

37. Do you know when you’ll be in your new location downtown?

Our goal is to be there sometime in October [2014]. We’re just working on exactly what we want to do with the space. Marcus has some complementary dessert companies that will probably share the space with us so we can all support each other and help drive more traffic overall. But the emphasis will be on Sweet Pete’s and making the store a candy destination.

38. How big will your staff be in Jacksonville?

We expect to be around 40 people to start.

39. Going forward, with so much change, will you and Pete have similar roles to what you’re doing now at Sweet Pete’s?

Our new space will have a test kitchen, which we don’t have now. That will allow Pete to do a lot of R&D. He’ll be the face of the company too. Pete loves to do the classes and he’ll do some but he won’t be able to do them all. He’ll also move from being really hands on to overseeing the daily production. I’ll be overseeing the business side of things. That’ll include working on the marketing but now I’ll have some help from Marcus’s team.

40. What do you think Sweet Pete’s will look like in a few years?

The ride has been crazy for us so far. We had been in Peterbooke and decided to franchise with Pete’s mom and grow to 25 stores. Well, that didn’t end up working out for us and all of a sudden it was like we’d lost a dream. Who’d have ever thought that we’d be completely broke and be able to take $10,000 and re-build it to this? It’s really hard to wrap our heads around what Sweet Pete’s can become. There are so many great possibilities ahead. We definitely see growing into much more of a national brand. Pete and I both have our families here so we see ourselves staying in Jacksonville, but you never know what’s going to happen and we need to stay flexible to grow wherever the business takes us.

41. Pete has a very distinctive look. Has he always looked like that? And does he gel his hair to make the way it does?

He does gel it up! He and I have been together since 1998 and his hair has always been like it is now, he just had much more of it before. I can’t see him with a comb over. The way it is is just Pete.

1922 N Pearl St.
Jacksonville, FL 32206
(904) 376-7161


About the writer

EatDrinkJax.com interviews are conducted by Jacksonville Beach resident Gerry Glynn. When Gerry isn't talking with restauranteurs he is working for a local software company, training for his next road race, and hanging out with his wife and dog.


 PREV 1 2 3 4