To a 9-year-old, $10 is a lot of money. It's five weeks' worth of allowance (if all your chores are done). It's the kind of sum you only come across in one fell swoop occasionally, perhaps tumbling out of a birthday card from great-grandparents, or given as spending money at some Disney resort shop.
Dylan's Candy Bar at The Grove was the site, on a recent afternoon, for one such spending-money occasion for one 9-year-old boy. The store, a recently opened expansion of the New York-based chain owned by Dylan Lauren (Ralph's daughter), offers a rainbow-colored spectacle, an overwhelming of the senses that's impossible to take in all at once. At first, it immobilized the 9-year-old, who stood unmoving near the entrance. But he soon spun off to the left, pulled toward a table that held lollipops in the shape of steaks, lobster claws and raw chickens. "Aw, nice!" he exclaimed. "Pickle gumballs!! And bacon-flavored toothpicks. That's awesome."
He turned to a center display, made up mainly of tins in the shape of various video game icons. "Do you like the Pac-Man ones or the ghost ones?" he asked. "I wonder how much they are? Look! Official Wii gumballs! Would I even be allowed to eat those?" (The adult in attendance assumed that perhaps official Wii gumballs are too precious to actually eat.)
Taking the Pac-Man mints up to the counter, the 9-year-old is dejected to find that they cost $5, and replaces them. A brief pause at the Angry Birds display puts the idea of Angry Birds Space Fruit Gummis in mind. Looking down, he exclaims, "How about candy shot glasses? That's what Dad needs."
In a corner, a political display has blue donkey and red elephant candies ("Ooh, a Republican lollipop!"), and on the store's outer wall, a massive "5 Pound Chocolate Bar" is calling. By this point, though, he doesn't even bother to find out how much the big chocolate bar is. "Everything here is so expensive," he says. What was initially viewed as an exorbitant treat is quickly turning into an almost sad lesson in economics.
In the center of the room, bins of loose candies and chocolates are for sale at $12.99 per pound. This is considered for a minute, but the pull to use one of Dylan's special candy containers -- a miniature plastic replica of the candy bins, complete with tiny scoop, or a cupcake-shaped container -- makes that route too expensive as well (containers cost $5-$8). "Also, those candies aren't that interesting."
Finally, a plan of action: Dylan's brand Belgian chocolate bars are $2.95 each, and Angry Birds Gummis are $4. A $10 deal is possible for four of the chocolate bars, but diversity is important in a candy haul. One malted chocolate bar, one bacon chocolate bar and one package of Angry Birds Space fruit Gummis: $9.90.
What is the 9-year-old's lasting impression of Dylan's? "It's pretty expensive. Also, it'd be cool if they had more stuff from around the world or something. Like, maybe, Japanese candy?"
Next time perhaps he'll take his spending money to Mitsuwa Marketplace.
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