When Raul Santiago opened his candy shop 45 years ago after buying the business from a friend, he charged a penny for individual candies. Now, as he’s set to close up his Alphabet City shop for good on Thursday, they cost a whopping 2 cents.
Santiago, 75, and his wife Petra Oliviery, 70, said it’s time to retire.
"It’s my time to rest," said Oliviery.
Their storefront on Avenue B is Raul’s Candy Store’s third location in the area, and they have spent the last 20 years or so doling out gummy eggs and airheads to happy customers. But more than just a candy shop, Raul’s Candy Store was like a second home to many.
"I wish it wasn’t closing. I’m going to miss the store, I’m going to miss hanging out here like the family we are," said Jennifer Rosado, a resident of Alphabet City who has been shopping at the candy shop since she was a child. "It’s going to be sad."
Rosado used to go to the candy store after school, and said she is sad that kids today won’t have that same opportunity.
"It used to get packed," she said. "And we’re not going to have that."
By Wednesday afternoon, most of the candy had been purchased, leaving many of the glass shelves empty. Rosado said that last week a woman purchased $45 worth of candy after learning of the store’s closing.
Santiago said he’ll put whatever is left out on the sidewalk on Thursday.
Willy Guzman, 56, said he has patronized the store for more than 20 years, and used to hang out there after work and on weekends. Guzman said the regulars would take turns preparing meals — it was his turn last week, he made lasagna — and even spend holidays at the shop.
"We used to come and play dominoes over there," said the Alphabet City resident. "Everybody’s sad … It’s going to be strange for everybody."
Guzman said he bought a retirement card for all the regulars to sign. He said they would present it Thursday.