Our Story and History
Back in 1973, our founders, Georgia Nash and Pamela Strickland, looking for a new opportunity, put their heads together and decided to open a quality gift shop in historic Savannah, Georgia. The mother and daughter team agreed their gift shop would abide by three unwavering standards: incomparable product quality, dedication to an unmatched customer experience and originality.
After an extensive search, the two budding entrepreneurs chose historic River Street for their store location. Back then, most of the Waterfront's old cotton warehouses remained either abandoned or vacant. In those days, landlords weren't too receptive to the idea of converting old buildings into retail shops. They didn't have the vision to see their properties' potential. Fortunately, Georgia and Pam found a willing landlord, a lease was signed, and "The Cotton Bale" was opened.
The Cotton Bale's inventory included Habersham Plantation Furniture, Georgia Gift Products, as well as distinctive Christmas gifts and ornaments. Georgia and Pam had dedicated themselves to providing their clientele with unusual gift items in a diversified and endearing retail store - they wanted their customers to have as much fun in there as they were having. The shop soon flourished under the partners' hard work, great attitude, and exceptional merchandise. Significant gains were further realized when additional renovations were made to River Street, and soon tourists from across the United States began traveling to Savannah's Historic Waterfront.
Accompanied by her young children, Jennifer and Tim, Pam Strickland traveled to Atlanta's Gift Show in 1978 in search of new ideas for the shop. The place was full of new ideas and products, but nothing seemed to really strike them as the 'right one.' Wandering off on his own, Tim was drawn by the sweet aromas of a giant fudge making pot and immediately called his mother and big sister over to share his yummy discovery. By the end of that week, the fudge maker was on its way to the Cotton Bale.
At first, the fudge pot and its operation required almost one-third of the store's total square footage, and many were skeptical that something occupying so much space could ever deliver the necessary profits. To everyone's delight, it became quickly apparent that the rich, made-right-before-your-eyes fudge was out-performing the staple gift items in The Cotton Bale. Ever the entrepreneur, Pam recognized her customers' fascination in quality, homemade candy and treats and began to test additional recipes. After weeks of tasting and testing, our "World Famous Praline" recipe was conceived, and the buttery, pecan-rich delights soon became our signature item.
The creation of our "World Famous Praline" recipe turned our simple family business from a retail gift shop dabbling in confections into River Street Sweets. No one could have foreseen the overwhelming demand for Southern confections we had discovered. Encouraged by further experimentation, Pam and company soon added such traditional candies as Glazed Pecans, Chocolates, Sugar and Spice Pecans, Log Rolls, Caramel, and Taffy to our product list. The concept of a truly Southern candy store had arrived.
By 1984, our secret was out! Sales were strong, and increasing demand for our scrumptious candies meant we needed more space and visibility. Choosing the Market Area in Charleston, South Carolina for its historic value and tourist potential, we named our new addition Market Street Sweets, and almost over night our new store was swamped with demand for our high quality Southern candies. Our third location opened in 1997 at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and continues to provide gourmet Southern Candies to the ever-growing tourist industry in the Strand area.
Our family of stores continued to grow across the Southeast. In 1999, a River Street Sweets store opened its doors in Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, and a large mail order facility, warehouse and second retail store were established on Skidaway Road in Savannah. More stores followed in 2001, including Gwinnett Place Mall and the Mall of Georgia in the Atlanta suburbs. June 2005 saw the opening of our latest retail store, again in Myrtle Beach, in the famous shopping and restaurant complex known as Broadway at the Beach. More stores are in the works, so check back for a store near you!
Literally growing up in the River Street store in Savannah, siblings Tim and Jennifer like to joke they just might have fudge in their veins and pralines in their brains. Perhaps, but the fact is that they both know the candy-making and retail businesses like few other in the country, with over 70 years experience between them. In 1988, Jennifer began full-time for River Street Sweets/Market Street Sweets, with younger brother Tim following suit in 1990. Today, the two continue the family tradition of supervising daily operations for all locations, while constantly looking for new opportunities and challenges.
All of our stores are designed to incorporate our customers into the experience. In fact, like little Tim back in 1978, most of our new customers are drawn in by the delicious aromas wafting from every one! We encourage our customers to watch the products being made, chat with the cooks on duty, and sample the candy. They really enjoy themselves! We don't want anyone leaving one of our stores without feeling they have really experienced something unique and valuable. From the very beginning, customer satisfaction has been at the forefront of our minds.
And it always will be. We're proud to deliver to our customers and guests simply the freshest, highest quality, most flavorful candies and confections available. Our neighbors know it - we've consistently been voted "Savannah's Best Candy Store." As a family, we take great pride in providing our customers with only the finest Southern candies. It's a custom we want to extend across generations and into your home. Even as we grow, we won't compromise our standards. It goes against our tradition, and besides, life's just too sweet!