Sweet lovers warning: Joob Joobs opens a funky candy shopping experience

Joob Joobs, a funky experience for lovers of sweets not readily available in Northern Ireland, opened its doors successfully last week in east Belfast from a sizeable investment of time and other resources by social entrepreneur Francesca Fennell.

By Sam Butler
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 5:00 pm

Francesca (28), from Holywood, has a strong social conscious and was keen to develop a different business that would “put something back” in donations to support vulnerable people, especially children, in the Third World.

Children, families and communities in the Philippines will benefit from the success of the eye-catching shop on the busy Belmont Road through Francesca’s support for the Ten Foundations on Lisburn Road, a charity which supports vulnerable families in the Philippines through the sale of quality handbags hand made by women there.

The colourful shop for lovers of good sweets, chocolate, ice cream and coffee also reflects Francesca’s desire to “enrich the high street”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The colourful exterior of the new shop on Belfast’s Belmont Road

“I believe our high streets currently needs product selection not found in supermarkets; original and tasty products that make the high street unique once again. And this is why I’ve focused on quality products from around the world that are not stocked in supermarkets here,” she explains.

She researched the market for a business for our beleaguered high streets that would be completely different and attractive to shoppers and youngsters.

“I set out to create a different and colourful sweet shop experience. The design I’ve created for the exterior and interior of the shop, therefore, is unusual and contemporary. Joob Joobs, in addition, reflects current market trends towards organic, low sugar and gluten-free. As a result, around 25 percent of our sweets are in these developing and important categories,” adds Francesca.

What she has created successfully is an innovative and quirky social enterprise that caters for virtually every type of sweet lover.

The impressive candy wall in the shop

Another influence underpinning the enterprise is Francesca’s desire to create a business with a strong community connection that would attract people of all ages to enjoy its unique shopping experience.

“This is why the new store offers tables for shoppers to enjoy the sweets and also to be able to buy great coffee and ice cream,” she continues.

“I want the shop to be an integral part of the Belmont community and, therefore, plan to offer scope for children’s parties in particular in the future. I also chose the location because there is a strong community there, a good offering of shops, cafes and eateries run by independent traders. Encouragingly, the choice of smaller outlets is developing steadily.

The name Joob Joobs, Francesca explains, is a play on the old fashioned term ‘Jujubes’ dating back to 1709 as pate de jujubes, essentially a gummy fruit sweet.

Originally launched online, the new Joob Joobs shop opened in early January and is already proving popular with shoppers due to its unique selection of sweets that are featured on what is probably Ireland’s biggest candy wall anywhere. There’s another wall that revives the tradition of pick and mix self-selection of a range of old favourites such as dolly mixtures, wine gums and chocolate covered raisins. These are provided in recyclable cartons, another aspect of the company’s focus on contemporary issues including sustainability.

Joob Joobs, she continues, was initially launched as “the only independent sweet shop within the UK online”.

“I have researched this quite a bit and there was no other online platform that recreated the real sweet shop experience,” she says. “I’ve now added the bricks and mortar experience. Both are based on my contacts with independent confectionery makers across the world - from UK, Sweden, Denmark and US so far.”

The striking design and colour scheme of the shop has also been driven by the talented Francesca: “The idea of circular counter, for example, is for our staff, ‘co-creators’, to become the centre of the business and really play a much greater role than simply cash register operators. They are there to display this new world of sweets to the community and hopefully become experts in what regular customers prefer. We also have the biggest candy wall anywhere.”

What’s next for the dedicated social entrepreneur?

“We have already upgraded our ice cream for mega treats for shoppers. Joob Joobs is in fact part sweetie world and part ice cream parlour! I also have plans to redevelop our online offering with a subscription service to be launched in March. And when I am finished with that I will start on our second location. I’d hope to take the concept to locations outside Northern Ireland in time,” she adds. 

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.

You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to newsletter.co.uk

With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Thank you