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Behind the counter: Taking a look at Monkland Avenue’s Sparkles shop

Sparkles owner, Claire Himo stands at her favorite section of the shop on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.
Sparkles owner, Claire Himo stands at her favorite section of the shop on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Pamela Pagano/ Global News

The sign said “closed” but that did not stop a group of children from running down the steps and entering the candy shop.

“We weren’t expecting to open that day,” said Claire Himo, owner of Sparkles. “They were so happy to finally get a candy store in their neighbourhood.”

Located on Monkland Avenue, Sparkles has been selling candy and party supplies since that spontaneous opening day back in August 2009.

Today, Himo’s customers are mostly adults who are still kids at heart. Gourmet red licorice is the shop’s best selling candy — or bestselling “sparkles,” as Himo’s niece once called them.

“She kept on calling candy ‘sparkles,'” Himo said. “It just stuck, I had to call (my shop) after that.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Monkland Avenue merchants frustrated with borough as they adapt to changes

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Jars of assorted candy sit on Sparkles’ shelf on Aug. 4, 2020. Pamela Pagano/ Global News
Jars of assorted candy sit on Sparkles’ shelf on Aug. 4, 2020. Pamela Pagano/ Global News. Pamela Pagano/ Global News

From retro candies to balloons and loot bags, the shop overflows with colour. And it is these colourful items that have been helping the shop financially survive COVID-19.

“(It’s) to add some life and colour at home,” Himo said. Since customers aren’t attending events due to the pandemic, she explained how they are buying her decor and sugar goods for backyard parties instead.

“It’s been challenging,” said Maha Mogab, a Sparkles employee. “But I can’t be mad, or angry, or frustrated. … I’m selling candies!”

“It’s true what people say,” added Erica Rothman, Sparkles manager. “It’s the happiest place.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Pointe-Claire Plaza merchants adapt to changes and receive continuous support

Sparkles employee Maha Mogab organizes the shop’s icing and cake decorating supplies on Aug. 4, 2020. Pamela Pagano/ Global News
Sparkles employee Maha Mogab organizes the shop’s icing and cake decorating supplies on Aug. 4, 2020. Pamela Pagano/ Global News. Pamela Pagano/ Global News

After leaving the corporate world 11 years ago, Himo didn’t know that opening Sparkles was in her near future.

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“I said, ‘What I can do next (where) I can be surrounded by colour and a great positive aura?'” she recalls.

It was on a road trip when, as she described it, “a light bulb lit up.”

“I ended up walking into a tiny candy store and the (owner) was constantly smiling,” Himo said. After a few days, she became curious and asked: “Sir, you work very long hours. Why are you always smiling?”

His response: “Wouldn’t you be if you were surrounded by kids and candy all day?”

“And that was my trigger moment,” Himo said. “I came back … and said this is what I want to do in Monkland Village.”

READ MORE: Behind the counter — Taking a look at Plaza Pointe-Claire’s Bluenose Collectible shop

Himo (left) and Mogab (right) behind the Sparkles counter on Aug. 4, 2020. Pamela Pagano/ Global News
Himo (left) and Mogab (right) behind the Sparkles counter on Aug. 4, 2020. Pamela Pagano/ Global News. Pamela Pagano/ Global News

“I love the shop mostly because of Claire,” Mogab said. “We have a similar work ethic.”

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Rothman agreed.

“(Working at Sparkles) definitely shaped me 100 per cent into the person that I am today,” she said. “Sounds dramatic but it’s true!”

Himo explained that she loves Sparkles because of the people who enter the shop. She has seen families evolve and children grow.

“Everything we do is surrounded around happiness,” Himo said. “I close my store after working hours, and all I did all day was smile.”