Mitchell Cohen left his Wall Street job to be a kid in a candy store. He must have grown up that way since his parents Jerry and Ilene had been running his grandfather's original candy business his whole life. Mitchell now owns Economy Candy, which was founded by his grandfather Moishe in 1937.
Moishe, immigrated from Salonika, Greece and joined a community of Greek Jews on the Lower East Side. He originally started the business as a shoe and hat repair store with a side business that consisted of a candy pushcart upfront. Well, it turns out some shoes and hats go out of fashion but candy never does.
Now Mitchell and his wife are the third-generation (his parents still sometimes work at the shop) making both kids and their parents happy with all sorts of sugary sweets.
Economy Candy is not terribly large but they cram as much candy as possible inside. They stock over 2,000 items including modern candy and retro candy of yesteryear. Think of you favorite candy from childhood and if they still make it, Economy Candy carries it.
Every corner will bring a new surprise. Up front, find the giant tootsie rolls and lollipops. In the back, there is a section for halvah (sesame candy), chocolate jelly rings, and dried fruits and nuts. And then each aisle brings all sorts of surprising and nostalgic packaging. You can even find candy cigarettes, dots, old baseball cards, gum balls, and any gummy shaped thing you can imagine.
As we walk through the Lower East Side on our Tenements Tales and Tastes tour, this is the kind of place that would have thrived up and down the streets. Sadly, many of these kinds of mom and pop businesses are being pushed out because of rising rents and modern construction. We do our part to keep them alive.
Economy Candy ties us to our history and keeps this neighborhood unique and authentic. And besides, who doesn't love candy? That's something that we can all agree on - even our dentist must have a secret stash of gummy worms.
108 Rivington Street
New York, New York 10002