Old time candy store satisfies more than a sweet tooth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEntrepreneur Tracy Balnis is a self-proclaimed old-fashioned girl who went on a mission to revive the past. Her vision for a shop reminiscent of the penny candy stores of her youth started last summer and came full circle with the grand opening celebration of her new shop, Rissi’s Old Time Candy & Toys, at 6834 W Windsor Avenue in Berwyn’s Depot District. The store officially opened in December 2012, and a ribbon cutting was held in conjunction with the City of Berwyn and the Berwyn Development Corporation (BDC) on June 26.

Rissi’s is a vintage candy and toy store, selling candy by the piece or weight and promising good old-fashioned fun. Store offerings also include hand-made chocolates, a line of coffee drinks, Filbert’s old time draft sodas, shaved ice novelties, and classic toys. Entering the store is an instant blast from the past. Patrons are greeted with Tracy’s warm smile, a vintage table and chairs, bright pink checkerboard floor, an antique “Wonder Horse” rocking horse, archetypal coca cola signs, and more. Embracing the present, Rissi’s also offers free wi-fi.

During a Route 66 road trip in June 2012, Tracy’s nostalgia inspired her to open the store. As she hopped along the historic Mother Road, it brought back fond memories of her old neighborhood and when she and her friends would scrape together change so they could buy and share bags of candy. As she continued her tour, she came across a series of “little miracles” that started with an antique gumball machine and turned into a collection of unique décor items that now adorns Rissi’s. She felt that anytime she had an idea for an item, it would cross her path. Much of her décor was found through antiquing and bargain hunting. The most recent example is the addition of her newly added shaved ice machine, which she was able to find gently used.

She hopes that her store can be a gathering place for young and old alike. Because she allows customers to buy as little or as much as they like, your bag can be overflowing with many flavors and textures of treats for the same cost that could be spent at larger retailers without the mix-and-match option. The end game is for Tracy to inspire a smile on her customers’ faces that matches the smile she has when she recalls her sweet candy store memories from childhood. Tracy stated, “Nostalgia binds us together. Sharing a memory is like seeing long lost friends after so many years, like coming home. I want Rissi’s to be a place where we can make new memories too.”

Mayor Robert J. Lovero added, “We were just reminiscing back from when we were kids. She has every candy we asked for. It’s been a treat remembering those days.” Jon Fey continued, “Rissi’s compliments the Depot District’s small town feel. We wish you every success.”

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