This spring, mobile candy shop GoGo Candy Co. was ready to roll, providing its sweet treats at events across Kansas City. But after the coronavirus outbreak prompted a citywide quarantine, owner Kim Salazar quickly hit the brakes and devised another way to distribute her candy inventory.

GoGo Candy had already made appearances at two bridal fairs and a pop up at The Roasterie earlier in the year. Salazar booked for the truck at a few weddings, birthday parties, craft fairs and business events before cancellations ensued. By March, her inventory of colorful candy had nowhere to go.

“I started to get worried that all my inventory was going to get too old to sell by the time the truck can get out into the community. I didn’t just want to throw it all away,” Salazar says. “I found myself putting together little bags of candy and handing them out to my neighbors, just putting them on their porches to surprise them.”

She also considered sending candy to loved ones out of town and delivering locally to friends while they sheltered in place. “That’s what gave me the idea of creating candy care packages,” Salazar says. “I decided I would rather give the candy away or sell it at my wholesale cost than throw it in the trash.”

Salazar figured others would also like to send care packages. She also sought to distribute packages to people in the community who are struggling financially due to COVID-19. “It’s not a lot for them, but a little candy care package could be a nice surprise at least and make them know that the community cares about them,” she says.

She contacted Phoenix Family, a nonprofit that assists low-income children, seniors and families, as a partner. For each candy care package that a customer purchases, another package will be donated and distributed to a family by Phoenix Family. Salazar has participated in and donated to Phoenix Family’s programs for many years, so she was familiar with their services. “They do wonderful things for low-income families in Kansas City,” she says. “My husband, Justin, and I adopt a family each Christmas through them and purchase gifts for the family.”

Salazar, a digital customer experience consultant, wanted to start her own business “doing something fun,” but needed flexibility built around her full-time job. She realized that a food truck operation “would remove a lot of overhead from running a real store” and hit on the idea for GoGo Candy after a trip to California.

“I was in San Francisco for a work trip and I walked into this adorable tiny candy shop. It made me happy, and I walked out with $10 worth of candy,” Salazar says. “That’s when the lightbulb went on for me. I could put a candy shop in a truck. I fell in love with the idea and just started imagining how I could make it happen.”

After a lengthy search, Salazar found a U.S. Postal Service truck in Rolla, Missouri, that fit her budget and drove it home. She devoted 18 months to planning, sourcing supplies, truck design and buildout. “The final build took three weeks,” Salazar says. “I had it parked at my home, so winter slowed it down quite a lot. I’m still adding improvements all the time.”

GoGo Candy is a self-serve experience. Salazar didn’t want to merely sell candy, but provide a setting akin to the feeling she had in the San Francisco candy shop. “There’s something fun, novel and unexpected about it, which puts a smile on people’s faces,” she says. “I have about 65 items in jars; people use scoops and tongs to select their own mix.”

The candy selection includes gummy candies, chocolate and chewy and hard candies, all arranged for customers of different ages. “The lower shelves have some of the crazier options for kids such as gummy penguins, piglets, frogs and gummy fried eggs, candy Legos, chocolate river rock and gold coins,” Salazar says. “The top shelves have things for adults; classics like peach rings, Swedish fish and gummy worms and gummy sharks. Also, some nicer chocolates such as sea salt savories, cayenne pepper savories and mint cookie malt balls.”

Salazar still plans to hit the road and bring GoGo Candy to events later this year and continue offering candy-based gifts and party favors for sale. “It’s a unique and fun way to celebrate a lot of occasions, birthday parties in your driveway, employee appreciation days, graduation parties, weddings, etc.,” she says. “For booked events, your guests will receive a bag that they can fill up with their own custom mix. I can customize the bags for any event.”

GoGo Candy Co., gogocandyco.com