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Kent April 15, 2021

Candy-O’s indulges sweet dreams at 28 Main St.

MILLERTON — As a first-time merchant, Gillian Osnato couldn’t have chosen a more novel venture, or a more desired location, for a new business than a candy store on Millerton’s Main Street. Located at 28 Main St. in the space formerly occupied by White Horse Collection, Osnato officially began welcoming customers into Candy-O’s on Friday, March 19, with an opening day that exceeded her wildest expectations.

Like many young workers, Osnato found herself without a job when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit more than a year ago. Fortunately she was able to work with her dad, Sal, who owns the T-Shirt Farm a few doors down at 22 Main St. This past year alone, she realized some of the benefits of owning a business along with the fears and hesitations, not to mention the ways in which the village evolved during the health crisis. And although she never imagined herself as a business owner, Osnato said she came to think “Why not me?” That’s when the idea for Candy-O’s began to take shape.

Though it originally started as a joke between Osnato and her father — inspiring them to go off on a tangent thinking about the candies they loved — the idea eventually took hold.

“At the core, I wanted to bring some joy back into my little corner of the world and felt sweets were the way to do it,” Osnato said.

Having owned his own business since the 1970s and loving his work throughout those decades, Osnato said her father is a major source of inspiration for her. Today, she said he is her biggest cheerleader.

“All day long, I have customers stop by the shop saying ‘Your dad just sent us up here,’ or ‘Your dad said to say hello!’ It is really comforting to know he is just down the street,” she said.

When she heard that Roz and Richard Roney-Dougal of White Horse Collection were retiring, Osnato knew the space that once held the couple’s boutique would be perfect for a candy store. Appraising the historic building’s old-fashioned feel and its large bay windows, she said she knew it would be ideal as soon as it became available. Between her father and her fellow Main Street merchants, Osnato said everyone has been welcoming and supportive of her venture, adding to that sense of community that she loves so much about Millerton.

“It is refreshing as a new, young business owner to feel the support of so many others,” she said.

Walking through the doors of Candy-O’s today, customers will be amazed by the brilliant assortment of candies, chocolates, toys and treats on display throughout the bright, open space. The heart of Candy-O’s is the nostalgia, Osnato said, adding that she wanted her shop to be a place that feels modern and retro at the same time. To that end, her shop sells not only classics like Necco wafers, wax bottle nips and baskets of saltwater taffy but also Nerds, Airheads, Jolly Ranchers, Dubble Bubble gum and Pez dispensers from the show, “The Mandalorian.” 

Pages taken from comic books hang on the walls above shelves of appealing toys and treats to give the space a retro feel while above customers’ heads a brightly colored sun has been painted on the ceiling.

From the classic candies (like jelly beans, Starburst, Swedish Fish and Lemonheads) to the more sophisticated treats (like Belgian milk chocolate peanuts, chocolate-covered cornflake clusters and fine chocolates from Hudson Valley Chocolates), Candy-O’s is stocked with enough sweetness to satisfy customer cravings of all shapes, sizes and flavors. 

With warmer weather on the way, customers can also satisfy their ice cream cravings with an array of homemade ice cream from the famed Jane’s Ice Cream in Kingston, with flavors like Banana Cookie, Limoncello, Killer Chocolate, Cappuccino Kahlua Calypso and Kitchen Sink (a tasty concoction of chocolate malt balls, marshmallows, cookies, chocolate covered caramel, chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate chips). Yum!

Hours of operation will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays this spring, though hours may change with the warmer weather ahead.

Regarding her future plans for Candy-O’s, Osnato said, “I hope that in five years, Candy-O’s will be a staple in Millerton. We will be an old friend to the locals and a new friend to visitors of the town. We will be a memory of family vacations and a place to bring joy to your child’s birthday celebration.”

Eventually, Osnato said she’d love to start a delivery service of candy and ice cream for the private schools in the region to offer students something special.

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