Business as (un)usual photo series: AusSam Candy adapts quickly to stay afloat amid pandemic

Chris Torres, Photo Editor

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting small businesses in a plethora of ways. From temporary closures to extensive safety protocols, businesses are being forced to adapt quickly. The “Business as (un)usual” photo series highlights local small businesses near CSUN and dives into how they are navigating through the challenges they have to face in these times.

The expression “like a kid in a candy store” takes on a whole new meaning once you step foot in the AusSam Candy.

Giant glass jars filled with salt water taffy and other various sweet treats line the back wall and the chalkboard has the phrase “Live life to the sweetest” drawn in bold pink and white cursive lettering.

Located in the Old Granada Village, the retro-themed candy store contains a variety of sweets from classic chocolate bars to international favorites from countries all over the world. Their brand identity, which includes their logo and packaging designs, was created by IntersectLA, a CSUN student-operated and faculty managed brand and creative strategy agency for businesses.

Samantha McDougall and Austin Pearlman, who are long time family friends, opened the business in March of 2019 with the goal of using candy as a catalyst for people in the neighborhood to come in and enjoy themselves.

A old framed portrait of Samantha McDougall and Austin Pearlman, the co-owners of AusSam Candy, displayed at the front of their candy shop at Granada Hills, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. McDougall said she used to babysit Pearlman when he was a child. (Chris Torres)

When the pandemic forced businesses to close and people to stay home, McDougall said they were unsure if they could remain open for the time being. Due to the store’s health permit classification falling under a low-risk category, they were able to keep their doors open. However, most of the businesses around them had to close or stay open for limited hours.

“Everything around us was shut down,” McDougall said. “So our customer base dropped because those are our customers – the people that come to the neighborhood to shop and do their business.”

McDougall said she refused to be discouraged and adapted accordingly to what the city allowed them to do. They started to offer curbside pickup, local delivery and premade gift bags for any occasion.

One of the gift bags for sale at AusSam Candy shop in Granada Hills, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The store’s brand identity, such as its logo and packaging design, was designed by IntersectLA, a CSUN student-operated and faculty managed full-service brand and creative strategy agency. (Chris Torres)
A collection of chocolate-covered nuts and gummy candies with the AusSam Candy logo. (Chris Torres)

“It was something that we were doing for the community and they were able to support us and we were able to support them,” McDougall said.

AusSam Candy requires face masks to be worn inside at all times and if people don’t have one, the store will provide a complimentary paper mask, said McDougall. They also have candy-shaped social distancing stickers on the floor and hand sanitizer available at the purchasing counter.