Deb Giordano 

Taming Boise's candy crush

Deb Giordano

Jeremy Lanningham

Deb Giordano

Maybe it was the countless varieties of Easter Peeps--small Peeps, jumbo Peeps, chocolate eggs with Peeps inside, blue, pink, yellow, even orange Peeps. Within an hour, we had a sugar high, just from breathing the air.

In search of the Easter Bunny's private stash, we visited Powell's Sweet Shoppe; and there, among the canyons of Easter-themed Sweet Tarts, Starbursts, Skittles, Dots, Junior Mints, a colony of chocolate bunnies and even some edible Easter basket grass, we found Deb and Joe Giordano, owners of the Powell's Franchise, which has operated in Boise's Bown Crossing neighborhood for a little more than seven years.

While Joe worked the counter, Deb took us on a moveable feast of sugar.

"I know our store looks chaotic but trust me, there's a method to all of this," she said.

I'm assuming that you didn't necessarily start out professionally with hopes of owning a candy store.

I always wanted to be a teacher, and I was in California, Hawaii, Washington and, for the longest stretch, in Idaho. I met Joe when we were both in school. He's a biologist and spent a number of years in law enforcement. We were both public servants for a long time.

That isn't the most natural career path toward operating a sweet shop.

We wanted more out of life and kept asking ourselves, "What business should we get into?" One of Joe's bosses kept telling him, "You've got to take your kids to this candy store." He was talking about the original California store run by Michael Powell. We thought, "What's the big deal?" But finally, we went there and immediately thought that this would be great in Boise.

Your kids must be over the moon about the family owning a candy store.

They're 11 and 10 years old. And they're always helping out in the summer and on spring break, and especially if Joe and I have to both be here at the same time.

But the kids must acknowledge the cool factor of their parents running Powell's.

We're really doing our best to ensure our children's popularity.

I don't know if I've ever seen this many varieties of Jelly Bellies all at once.

And these are just a few of their flavors. Here's a test: Do you know what the No. 1-selling flavor of Jelly Belly is?

I'll guess buttered popcorn. It's pretty amazing.

Good guess. Buttered popcorn is actually No. 2. The most popular is Very Cherry. We'll be getting a new flavor in soon. I really don't know how it's going to go, but it's beer-flavored.

Talk to me about the gourmet chocolates behind your glass display case at your main counter. I counted 22 different varieties, just of the truffles.

They're really popular as gifts. Our big seller for Easter is a strawberry cheesecake truffle. The other two shelves are filled with hand-crafted chocolates, made special just for us--turtles, huge peanut butter cups, almond bars, sea salt caramels, and over there is chocolate-dipped bacon--it's bacon, fried on a skewer and dipped in chocolate. It's very popular.

I'm assuming there's a model to how to lay out a store like this, by dividing it into distinct sections.

That's right. In the back, we have something we call our theater section.

I'm guessing that those are all the jumbo-sized candies that we spend a fortune on at the movies.

Junior Mints, Goobers, Good and Plenty, Dots, all of them. And right next to that we have what we call our memory lane section--Snow Caps, Charleston Chews, Chuckles, Clark Bars, Zagnuts.

Talk to me about your soda fountain section.

Eighty-six different types of bottled soda. A lot of them have the original formula, so they're made with cane sugar instead of today's corn syrup.

I have to pause here to talk about the video and music that is constantly playing throughout the store.

We have the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie playing on a continuing loop on two old-fashioned TV sets. And the music you hear is all candy- or soda-themed songs.

[As we spoke, the soundtrack included "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Sugar, Sugar" and "Lollipop."]

What are the demographics of the people who walk through your door?

Everyone says, "Oh, you must get a lot of kids." And we do. But they're really not our No. 1 customers. It's definitely adults.

How do you not keep yourself from sampling all day?

I'll admit that it comes and goes in waves. Joe and I joke around that if something gets broken, we get to eat the rejects.

I'll admit that I never realized before just how many sections you have in the store.

Novelties, retro toys, gelato ice cream and over here is our little girls' section. That's where we have Disney Princess, Hello Kitty and My Little Pony candies.

And I would be remiss if I didn't point out the cupcake-flavored toothpaste.

Everybody needs that.

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