He’s not quite a kid in a candy store (excuse the American idiom), but his two young children most definitely are.
It may be a heavy responsibility to hold the reins of the Candy Box in the Carfax, established almost a century ago, but Howard Bayliss sounded excited about the challenges that lay ahead of him six weeks into the job.
As a Horsham resident for most of his life, he tells me it is something he has always wanted to do, having spent a lot of his working life in the corporate world, working for some of the big banks in London and a mortgage firm closer to home.
Running a sweet shop or being self-employed? A bit of both he says.
“It’s something I have always wanted to do but I never thought the opportunity would come up.
“When I found out this was available I just decided I just wanted a complete change and a new challenge.”
There are easier settings for an interview, as a steady stream of customers pick up papers, cigarettes and early afternoon snacks, but Howard deftly weaves back and forward between tasks.
There may be a certain amount of pressure attached to owning something of a Horsham town centre landmark, but he maintains confectioners and newsagents can still flourish.
“Being in these difficult times there is still a call for these types of traditional shops.”
He is keen to enhance the offering and has agreed with Panino Cafe, across the Carfax, to supply rolls and sandwiches, while he has also stocked loose-leaf tobacco to fill the demand left by the demise of The Pipe Shop in Middle Street late last year.
It’s the little touches that can make a big difference.
“It’s local businesses helping other local businesses,” Howard explained.
“There are a lot of businesses that have been here a long time and they were very welcoming.”
Howard is also coach of his son’s youth football team at Chesworth Rovers FC, and while he is well known locally he has been so busy he admits he has not had the chance to tell a lot of his friends about his exciting new acquisition.
Is it too early to be thinking about what his and the shop’s future might hold?
He answers “Bearing in mind it has been here for 93 years if I can be successful here I would like to think that my children could take over from me.”
Occasionally Howard’s son, 9, and daughter, 7, who both go to Holbrook Primary School, help run the store for half an hour at the weekend alongside Linda and Denise, the two other faces of the Candy Box.
Is there anything they like doing in particular?
“Sampling and using the till. They expect lots of freebies, which they do not get.”
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