New downtown candy shop hopes to provide a little fun and magic to city’s retail scene

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Squishington's, 646 Massachusetts, is shown on Feb. 7, 2024.

You know what they say about a kid in a candy store.

He’ll either bounce off the wall or stick to it. (On second thought, maybe that is just what they said about me, and why we didn’t often stop at one.)

No, the more conventional saying has something to do with all the joy and happiness such a visit creates. That’s all true, but Jhami Guffey, an owner of the new Squishington’s candy shop in downtown Lawrence, said a highly underrated experience is watching an adult in a candy store.

“The thing with a kid in a candy store is really how you can describe an adult in a candy store too,” Guffey said. “They really become a kid, let loose and treat themselves, which is really more magical in some ways.”

That is what Jhami and Rachel Guffey were hoping for when they opened Squishington’s a couple of months ago at the corner of Seventh and Massachusetts streets, in the portion of Liberty Hall that used to house the video store.

The husband-and-wife duo are retail veterans, having met while working at The Toy Store in downtown Lawrence; they then went on to open the Jungle House, which sells houseplants and other such items from a shop on Seventh Street.

“I have had this idea in my head for quite a while,” Jhami said. “This idea of a magical place to go, whatever type of retail that is. Candy felt like something we needed downtown. We were missing it.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Jhami and Rachel Guffey, owners of Squishington’s candy shop are pictured on Feb. 7, 2024.

Indeed, it has been a while since Lawrence has had a true candy shop downtown. Longtime residents might remember Penny Annie’s near Ninth and Massachusetts streets, but that candy/popcorn/sandwich shop has been closed for years.

Like that old candy shop, Squishington’s sells some bulk candy that you can purchase by the scoopful. But Squishington’s also has a large amount of packaged candy that comes from all over the world, as well as from days gone by.

Jhami said people get excited about “nostalgic candies,” which at this point include items like Pop Rocks, Big League Chew and Reggie Bars, with the last being a chocolate bar that became popular during the playing days of baseball great Reggie Jackson. (George Brett tried his own line, but pine tar never caught on as well as chocolate.)

The international items also have been a hit in Lawrence, with Jhami saying a customer who used to live in Sweden became pretty excited when she found some Swedish gummy candy in the store’s stock.

An item that has surprised Jhami in how popular it has been is artisan chocolates. The store features a rotating inventory of chocolates from smaller companies and from different regions of the U.S. or the world. The artisan chocolate industry has some similarities to artisan wineries or coffee roasters, Jhami said.

He said it has been fun researching the various styles of chocolate, including the types of milk used, the ratios of cocoa to milk and the various stories behind each brand. And there are a lot of brands to research.

“I thought this would be a little bit harder product to find, but really it has been harder to narrow it down,” Jhami said.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Artisan chocolates are shown at Squishington’s on Feb. 7, 2024.

As for how the store does decide what candy to carry, Jhami said he and Rachel try to keep a nice mix of the expected versus the unusual or harder to find candy selections. In all, the store has about 750 different candy offerings currently, and inventories adjust frequently so that visitors are likely to find something new each trip to the store.

And thus far, the two haven’t yet gotten to the point that they are going to the big candy shows and sampling products. That will come in the near future, Jhami said. For now, they are ordering off of feel and curiosity. Then, that’s when the real fun begins.

Once a shipment comes in, Jhami said there’s a fairly uncomplicated process that ensues: They open up a package and give it a try.

“We buy it and then find out how much we like it,” Jhami said. “I can tell you, we’re eating a lot of candy.”

You probably know that saying too: It is a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Squishington’s candy shop is shown at 646 Massachusetts on Feb. 7, 2024.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.