Follow-Up File: Sweet shop’s sweeter spot in Cayucos

Name: Jim Christiansen

Job: Owner

Business: Cayucos Candy Counter

What he said then: In July 2009, The Tribune’s By the Bay column highlighted the jelly beans, chocolate turtles and taffy at the Cayucos Candy Counter.

Founded in 1985, this old-fashioned sweet shop was purchased in 2008 by Jim and Pam Christiansen.

“It was a goal and a dream to move here,” Jim Christiansen said. “Cayucos was our family’s vacation spot.”

The two were high school sweethearts in Fresno. She owned a court reporting business, and he was fire chief in Alameda before they retired.

Their children, Bonnie and Kyle, also work at the shop with up to six other employees during high season.

What he says now: After 10 months in its new location at 75 Cayucos Drive, the candy shop is expanding its boardwalk appeal.

With a walk-up window that attracts beachgoers, Cayucos Candy Counter has added fudge, hand-dipped ice cream bars and fruit smoothies.

“Near the pier there’s considerably more foot traffic” than the former location on North Ocean Boulevard, Christiansen said. “That works well for our type of business.”

As summer approaches, the shop plans to add sundaes and a cotton candy machine, replacing its premade confection with home-spun.

Gift baskets — a growing segment of sales — are becoming a bigger focus. Bonnie Christiansen, who now works there full time, oversees their design and assembly.

She’s designing a line of special-occasion baskets, ranging from an anniversary theme to a welcome gift for local vacation rentals. They could be strictly candy or might include products from other Cayucos businesses, such as beer, cookies or wine.

“Of course, Valentine’s Day is all about romance and love,” said Jim Christiansen. “That has to include chocolate.”

But for licorice lovers, it’s still the shop’s wide ar- ray of these candies that get the heart beating. With about 20 different types, tasters can find the flavor that best fits their palate.

And once they do, they can be devoted, such as one visitor from upstate New York who places regular phone orders.

The move to Cayucos Drive was a “considerable expense” that involved stripping the space to the wall studs and adding energy-efficient lighting and other electrical equipment.

But Christiansen believes the opportunity to move to a prime tourist spot came at the perfect time.

“It was a long-term investment,” he said. “Our business has grown steadily every year. It’s even stronger at the new location.”

Have an idea for a follow-up? Each week, The Tribune checks in with a business it has reported on before. Send suggestions to: followupfile@thetribune