Calling all sweet tooths!
Brisbane’s favourite, family-run lolly shop is celebrating a whopping 30 years in business this weekend and you won’t want to miss out on a moment of the fun!
That’s right! We’re talking free face painting, giveaways, live music, bubbles and more... all in celebration of The Great Aussie Sweet Company.
To kick off the festivities, we sat down with Donna – second generation owner and fellow candy enthusiast – to learn more about the business’s inspiring story...
When did it all start?
My dad, Don, opened the store on the 20th of June 1992. He knew someone on the panel of the new South Bank Parklands in Brisbane, and he was fortunate enough to get a retail spot. We’d previously owned a shop on the broad walk at Breakfast Creek, so he brought the name over here. The business used to be franchised, but by that point we were the only one remaining. My dad wanted to create an old-world themed lolly shop, with a style that reminded you of your childhood. He set it up and we were ready for opening day!
Have you been working in the company since the start?
When we opened the store, I was only 16. I worked here on the weekends with it being my parent’s business, but eventually I went off and did my own thing for a couple of years. One day my dad approached me and said, “you know, I’m not going to look at running the shop forever, are you interested in potentially buying it off me one day?”. At the time, I was doing my own thing and wasn’t thinking of anything along those lines, but I knew it was a great opportunity and that it would be silly to not at least give it a try. So, in 2003 I started managing the store with my dad and convinced him to let Glen (my husband) work in the store full time too. He and I began managing the store and did so for 10 years before we convinced dad that we’d be buying it. We loved it, and so we just continued! We love it more and more each day.
What do you love most about the store?
The store has really changed over the last couple of years. We used to just treat it like a job and now we treat it like a business. During covid, I enlisted the help of a good business coach and she helped me change my perspective. We’d never done much promotion or marketing, and we never thought we’d needed to as we were always busy enough. But then covid hit and there were no tourists or foot traffic. I heard how other businesses were using Uber eats, so we became the first lolly shop to do it. Since then, I’ve focused so much more on marketing, and through Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok I’ve discovered a whole new creative style for this workplace. It’s brought me together with my staff as they’re mostly millennials and it’s been really well received. I’m really loving that side of it more.
What do you think sets The Great Aussie Sweet Company apart?
We pride ourselves on being a small family business. We are such a family unit here; all our staff are friends, and we are mentors. It’s more than just a job, we’re a community. That’s what is so fun about it.
I’m sure you’ve gained many loyal customers in the past 30 years of business. Can you speak more about the community you’ve created?
We have a lot of customers that used to come in as kids, and who know bring in their own children. It’s become a generational thing. They walk in and love how it’s the same. It hasn’t been renovated so the magic is still there, we just have new products.
Is there anything you’d like your customers to know?
We are so proud that we’re still running strong and are going better than ever. It’s incredible to see how we’ve adapted through covid. We’ve taken a bad situation and used it as an opportunity to better our business. You can sink or swim, and we definitely swam! No matter what happens, we’re here for the long term. There’s so much happening in Brisbane that we are looking forward to. It’s going to be incredible!