Sweet Déjà Vu
March 24, 2010
“Remember Yesterday. Today.” It’s more than just a tagline for Powell’s Sweet Shoppes; it’s a way of living. Even though Michael Powell opened the first Powell’s Sweet Shoppe less than eight years ago, his sugar-induced hallucinations feel like they’ve been around since the turn of the century. Indeed, Powell’s Sweet Shoppes are an old-time, old-fashioned, old-world candy store taken right from America’s imagination.
The original Powell’s Sweet Shoppe opened in September 2003 in Windsor, Calif., a small rural town of about 25,000 located just north of Santa Rosa in the heart of the Sonoma County wine country. The store was an immediate success, with more than 200,000 visitors its first year.
Thanks to continual customer comments like “Where are your other locations?” or “Can I open a store in my town?”, Powell embarked on his current model of expansion through franchising, ensuring local control and ownership of the stores by franchisees who share the ideas, principles and values embodied in the original Powell’s Sweet Shoppe.
Upon receiving state approval in 2005, the first franchised location opened in February 2006. With the help of an excellent team, headed up by Print “Stack it high, and watch it fly” Cates, there now are 17 locations in California, Oregon, Idaho and Colorado.
For more information, visit www.powellsss.com.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I always thought I would be an architect, until I actually went away to an architectural apprenticeship program and just hated it. As is sometimes the case, I was more in love with the idea of being an architect than with the actual job.
Name one or some of your favorite movies.
To me, movies are best when they are pure escape. I love being taken to a creative place full of concepts and ideas that are unique. Therefore, I’m a bit of a Sci-Fi geek. Loved “The Abyss” and “Aliens,” although “Avatar” not so much (all directed by James Cameron). Although definitely not a Trekkie, I loved the new “Star Trek” remake.
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Right after graduating from Berkeley in 1989, my best friend and I actually went on the perfect vacation. We bought one of those cheap around-the-world airfares and embarked on one of those cliché backpacking/hostel trips. What made it incredibly memorable was that we started with a dual theme: How many Nobel Peace Prize winners could we meet while conducting a global search for the world’s perfect banana split? After listening to Elie Wiesel in New York and Desmond Tutu (he was visiting London), glimpsing Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and visiting the Dalai Lama in exile in Dharamsala, and after many heart-wrenching banana split disappointments, we found the world’s best banana split in, of all places, Madras, India. It was a little old-fashioned ice cream parlor, a holdover from colonial rule. Delicious. Then again, anything cold was delicious during monsoon season.
What book are you currently reading?
I’m reading Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s “End the Fed.” I place the cause of this economic meltdown squarely at the feet of the Federal Reserve, and Paul is the only politician telling the truth.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
Well, since being stranded would probably be a bit of a downer, I’d have to pick a comedian to help make the time go by. And Ellen DeGeneres makes me laugh the most. She’d see the humor in our situation. No, really, I’m serious.
What’s your pet peeve?
Unless there is an avalanche or an earthquake, I’m never late. People who are perpetually behind schedule drive me crazy. Sometimes I can set my watch by the punctuality of their tardiness.
I’d give anything to meet:
Willy Wonka. And Veruca Salt would be pretty fun, too.
The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
As my mom would always say, “Always keep your promises, and wear clean underwear.”
What excites you most about your job?
I get excited when I think that Powell’s Sweet Shoppe has the possibility of becoming a national brand. Due to the retail economy, we’ve circled the wagons, but when we eventually come out of this, I’m excited to embark on the journey that takes us to the next level.