Pandemic shift for Confetti Sweets becomes permanent

· The Pulse
By Sharon Yeo
in the Food Roundup
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Confetti Collective, which started as a pandemic-era side business for local bakery Confetti Sweets, has become a permanent fixture of the company's brick and mortar shop in Sherwood Park thanks to a warm embrace by customers.

Ubiquitous at Edmonton-area farmers' markets for well over a decade, Confetti Sweets opened up a storefront in Sherwood Park back in 2014. In early 2020 owner Kathy Leskow decided to significantly expand, not knowing a pandemic would soon derail her vision.

"We actually took a big risk and tripled our space with leasing another bay in February 2020," Leskow told Taproot. "To earn revenue for the extra space, we had plans to launch a birthday party program and to open a café style concept. COVID became a thing one month later and our plans were put on hold."

Vendors that had become her "market family" thanks to years of selling alongside them at farmers' markets had an uncertain future in those initial months after things shut down. "Farmers' markets had no idea whether they would be able to continue as usual," said Leskow. "In April 2020 I invited about 15 of them to sell in our space, and it grew from there. Now we have over 50 brands in our store."

With so many new products coming into the store and taking over the company's social media, Leskow and her team eventually decided to spin the effort out into a separate entity called Confetti Collective.

Kathy Leskow at the Confetti Collective Christmas Market

Owner Kathy Leskow at the Confetti Collective Christmas Market in Sherwood Park. (Confetti Sweets/Instagram)

The Collective doesn't charge vendors any ongoing fees. "We typically purchase at wholesale prices and sell for retail prices," said Leskow. "This pays for space in the store and any collective marketing we do."

The growth of the Collective's product catalogue, available both in-store and through delivery, has been somewhat organic. Customers have requested specific items, and Leskow is also open to housing additional items.

"We love new brands," said Leskow. "They have to be produced in a commercial kitchen, and we try to have a good variety. For example, we have a great Mexican variety so we won't take on any more Latin foods at this time. We do our best to support the brands that have helped us grow."

Leskow shared that some of the most popular items include El Gringo chips, Kick Ass Caramels, Auntie Jean's Fudge, KGW Popcorn, Chocolicious, and Sherwood Park Soups.

The Collective has been a win-win for Confetti Sweets.

"Our average customer spend has doubled if not tripled in the past two years," said Leskow. "If customers do come in for just a quick dinner solution from the freezer, they usually end up grabbing at least one cookie."

While Confetti Collective was unplanned, Leskow enjoyed the challenge and is grateful for the community support.

"I kind of went from running a bakery, to running a grocery store, and I am still learning," said Leskow. "The growth of this 'side business' has been super exciting. You don't know how special it is when we start placing larger and larger orders with these local companies. It truly makes their day!"