Opinion: Yankee Doodle Candy
By Robin Darke on July 11, 2012 in Food
How great are sweets, right? After sex before work and having a day off because the Queen wants to show everyone how much money she has, and how adored she is by Tory donors, sweets are the next best thing aren’t they?
The sugar hit combined with the fact that it might turn your tongue to a vomit like colour makes us all feel like we’re children again, despite the fact that you’re essentially chained to a desk and are working harder compared to the bitches that have been working there for years, but getting paid less.
And retro sweets have never been as on-trend. Every type of confectionery is sizing up to knock macaroons off the top perch of sweet heaven and be the new cupcake. I’ve honestly seen a flock of Wham bars throwing fists with a school of Nerds. Ok, no, I haven’t. That was a lie, but I could have. The confectionery landscape has never been as fractured and innovative. There seems to be a shop opening for every sweet impulse.
Retailers like Hotel Chocolat and Thorntons have been having opposite fortunes on the High Street, with Thorntons almost going down the pan, while Hotel Chocolat are expanding overseas and trying to push their brand of luxury chocolate onto more and more people who don’t mind spending too much money on something they’ll only probably scoff in a car park on the way home.
Unfortunately, the dark side of retail has shown it’s face yet again, and as I entered Yankee Doodle Candy in the Metro Centre, it reminded me of two places; Willy Wonka’s worst nightmares and Primark.
Crammed, sloppily set out, and with a disappointing lack of care and attention , Yankee Doodle Candy takes what should be a magical experience of almost Harry Potter proportions and boils it down to the very basics of retail: getting people in, taking their money and getting them out again.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this, it’s what businesses have thrived on for decades, but the beauty of having a successful business is not letting the customer ever feel like just another cog in the machine.
I visited on a quiet weekday and still felt like I was a lamb being led towards a kosher butcher on a Friday afternoon before he goes on holiday. The single file trudge around the three corners of the store that were crammed full of sweets was not only unnecessary, but also devolved all the millions of pounds put into customer shopping research and learning about customer flow into essentially that marshmallow fluff that you can buy from Yankee Doodle Candy. If there was a North Korean version of Hotel Chocolat, then this would be it. It would make Buffalo Bill’s victims think it was a bit claustrophobic.
But the most important, make or break part of a shopping experience is easily the staff, and I would love to say that we were treat like recently married princesses, but instead we were shuffled toward the cash desk and, while the staff talked about how brilliantly they could dance like Beyonce (without actually showing me) they beeped everything through and took our payment without as much as a hello or bye. What galled even further was the fact there were three members behind the till, yet only one was serving. The other two could have been mingling around the shop, asking if people were alright, whether they needed any help, or whether they wanted to dance like Beyonce.
All in all, Yankee Doodle Candy is a clever idea marred by poor execution and even poorer staff. Amazon has kicked a pretty big hole in the skull of the humble sweet shop over the years, so for one of the few remaining to not capitalise on their USP of being available in REAL LIFE, with REAL PEOPLE is borderline suicidal.
Normally I would advocate using the High Street whenever you can, but if they don’t put the effort in, like the management at Yankee Doodle Candy haven’t, then why should you?
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