An old-fashioned candy store probably hasn't been in historic Dutch Hill since 92-year-old Walt Bodine was a schoolboy at Longfellow Elementary. But as of today, there's a shop devoted to vintage sweets (Chick-O-Stix, candy necklaces, Cherry Mash) and crinkly cellophane bags of bulk candy: malted milk balls, taffy, gummy bears, orange slices and just about everything else. "We carry at least 300 different varieties of candy," says Leslie Bitterman, who runs the business with her parents and brother.
The Longfellow School is still operating over at 28th Street and Holmes, but the neighborhood surrounding Eye Candy isn't exactly the kind of place where youngsters are running around with scooters and Hula-Hoops. "But this neighborhood is changing quite a bit," Alan Bitterman says, noting the return of owner-operated restaurants into the area, like Succotash, Magnolia's and You Say Tomato. "We have had some foot traffic today."
This includes a few residents of nearby Hyde Park, who stopped in to see the merchandise — edible and old — on display inside a building that was once a Nash automobile showroom, back when this neighborhood still had its own movie theater, ice-cream shop (Velvet Freeze) and roller rink (El Torreon).
Alan and Marilyn Bitterman, who started in the candy business owning and maintaining gumball machines, can both remember the neighborhood candy stores of their youth. "I grew up on the Plaza," Marilyn Bitterman says. "There was a candy shop right across the street from the Sweeney School."
There's no bicycle fixing at Eye Candy, but there might be an old vintage Schwinn to buy and take home from one of the vendors who have leased booth space from the Bittermans. The former automobile showroom also boasts its own art gallery and a space for selling custom-made gift baskets. The hours of Eye Candy & Vintage Market are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.