Dream job selling sweets turns sour for shop owner
PUBLISHED: 06:54 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:27 15 October 2019
The owner of a seaside sweetshop that has been passed down through the generations is quitting to raise funds to get on the property ladder.
Brogan Smith, 23, began helping his father in Thompson's rock shop, in Hunstanton, aged just six and took it over as a teenager after he was asked to leave school - because he'd been caught selling sweets to fellow pupils.
Thompson's, in Le Strange Terrace, is one of four sweet shops in the town owned by the same family and the business dates to 1876 when Brogan's great, great grandmother, Cynthia Thompson, came up with her own recipe for nougat and sticks of rock.
She was a well-known character in the town selling candy from buckets tied either side of her cow. The sweet treats were a big hit and the business expanded as it passed down the generations. First the firm used mobile trailers taken to local fairs until and then 25 years ago the first shop was opened in a terraced building overlooking the sea.
But the sweet recipes were sold and now Brogan has to buy stock in from the home of rock, Blackpool, which also customises them with the wording and picture of Hunstanton.
"I remember helping out my dad," said Brogan, who lives above the shop. "But I got into trouble when I was 14 for selling quarters of jelly fruits at school for £2 a bag. I used to make hundreds of pounds in change, but the school didn't like it as children were spending all their lunch money. "But my dad, Joseph Smith, who's now retired, thought I was a really good businessman, so he gave me the shop to run for four years and said if I made a success of it, he'd give it to me when I was 18, which he did."
Since then, Brogan sells most types of sweet imaginable including cherry, pineapple and even banana flavoured rock. Fudge also comes in unusual flavours including Cadbury's Creme Egg and Vimto.
"You can eat as much as you like, but you're eating your profit," Brogan added. But running the shop became tricky recently after his grandfather, Terence Smith, passed away.
"The shop just reminds me of him every day," he said. Brogan also wants to buy a house so he's put the business and the building, including all the stock of sweets, up for sale for £199,950. But he is also in talks with a mortgage company in the hope he may be able to arrange the finance to rent it out instead for about £7,000 a year.
"I won't be able to buy a house here, so I'll probably move about 25 miles away and get another job, I will miss it but my dream is to one day return, take back the business, and buy a home in Hunstanton."
A family business
Thompson's Rock Shop in Hunstanton was started by Brogan Smith's great-great grandmother, Cynthia Thompson who had three children, Cynthia, Kate and William, who all inherited a mobile trailer, which took sweets to fairs and local shows.
Cynthia junior went on to marry and became Cynthia Smith and Kate became Kate Parkin. The business passed down to the next generation, Brogan's grandparents with Maureen and Terence Smith taking charge of their part of the sweet business and Mrs Smith still comes into Thompson's now.
They had four boys - Joseph, Jason, Terence and Robert - and three carried on the profession with only Robert doing something else, becoming a painter and decorator.
Joseph Smith is Brogan's father and he gave Thompson's to him. But other members of the large extended family run other shops in Hunstanton including Rock & Puff and Candy & Cream - and they all live close by.