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The Sweetest shop in russian hill

The Candy Store Illustration with Shrimp 'n Lobster
The Candy Store

Welcome to Local Makers where we look into what inspires successful entrepreneurs and what they love about their hometown.

In celebration of Valentine's Day, we've chosen to kick things off with a little sweetness. Tucked away just off Polk Street in the Russian Hill neighborhood lies The Candy Store. It's one of the most enchanting shops I've had the pleasure of stepping into, with wall to wall candies in glass jars that sparkle like treasure. The ambiance feels truly magical, inviting you to follow your taste buds wherever they may lead.

Owner Diane Campbell graciously took a moment to share insights into her sweet success and what she loves about the famous city by the bay, San Francisco.

Can you share with us the story behind your candy store and what inspired you to start this business, especially in San Francisco. How long have you been in business?

I grew up in NY and my parents forbid sweets in the house. Of course this only made my obsession with candy stronger. My favorite childhood store was called ‘The Candy Store’ and it was the most special and exciting place ever. My husband, Brian, and I moved to SF in 1996 and after many unfulfilling jobs, I decided to make my childhood dream a reality with Brian as my partner. We opened in April, 2007 after looking for a space for 3 grueling years. 

Growing up did you know you wanted to get into confectioners? Did you know you were going to have this sweet boutique?

At around the age of nine, I decided that one day I would have a candy store. 

You always have a crowd of people in your store, I look at it like a willie-wonka effect. What is the secret to your sweet-success?

I very carefully curate the store, have a lot of respect for my products and have formed incredible bonds with my customers. 

Did you have anyone that mentored you as you were building your business? What can you tell young entrepreneurs that will inspire them to pursue their dreams?

I didn’t really have a mentor but a very strong desire to achieve my goal.  

What are your most popular treats here in the store? Have you ever received any strange requests?

Our most popular candy is Swedish gummies and artisan chocolate bars and caramels. 

What is your personal favorite in the shop?

I love nostalgic candy, and that’s what the store was built around - the candy of my youth. I love Mallo Cups, Zagnut Bars, Zotz, caramel, marzipan and handmade marshmallows. 

You have unique candies tailored to certain occasions. It looks like you have a lot of fun! What is your favorite occasion to buy for?

Valentine’s Day is the prettiest of all holidays and makes the store look so happy and inviting. 

Has travel ever influenced the candy you purchase for your shop? If so, what is your favorite place to explore?

Hands down, Japan. I’m obsessed and a long term dream is to open a shop there one day. 

Since we love exploring our neighborhoods and you’ve been in Russian Hill for quite some time. What are your top go-to places to visit in the city? Do you have any local-secret spots we might not know about?

I’m a creature of habit and love to support wonderful business owners who consistently do it right: Original Joe’s, Swam Oyster Depot, Tadich Grill and Brenda’s Meat & Three are my favorite restaurant and Russian Hill Bookstore is my favorite local shop. 

If you could design a one-day itinerary for someone visiting SF. What would it be?

Come to Russian hill to shop and go to the presidio because it’s the greatest part of the city with so many things to see and explore. 

What do you love about San Francisco?

What I love most about San Francisco is that even though it’s a big city, it feels like a small town. I always seem to run into someone I know, no matter where I go. I love that!



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