Sweeties Downeast

Picture of candy store counter

What’s better than driving over to the most eastern city in all of America? Driving to a candy shop located in the most eastern city in all of America. Sweeties Downeast is a “confectionary wonderland” operated by the venerable Lisa Stephen as well as her two dogs: Fargo, an Australian terrier, and recently Malachai, an 8-year-old Shih Tzu. The candy shop is located on 80 Water Street in Eastport and offers more than 400 varieties of sweets. 

Amongst these sweets, there are 250 different confections like licorice, saltwater taffy, old-time favorites, Jelly Belly’s, chocolate, sours, and so much more. According to Lisa, gummies are the customers’ favorite candies, and there’s even a 3ft. long gummy snake that weighs about ⅓ of a pound. Lisa says, “It’s stomach-turning, but I swear the more disgusting the shape the more they like it. I’ve got gummy bloody eyeballs, brains, teeth, bullfrogs on one end and cupcakes, hearts, flowers, and ice cream cones on the flip side”.

Sweeties Downeast’s store specialty is the Beckett’s Honey Sticks. “It’s the signature chocolate bar from Beckett’s, Eastport and Calais’ original confectioners started by 2 Scottish brothers in the mid 1800s. There was a store and factory on the main street in each town. Honey Sticks are semi hard fondant bars dipped in dark chocolate. It takes a couple of days to make each batch. Beckett’s was a family business for many generations. When it closed the recipes were carried on by another local chocolatier which eventually closed in the early 2000s”. 

Image of Beckett's Honey Sticks

When Lisa first opened Sweeties Downeast, she would always have locals come into her store and ask if she sold Beckett’s Honey Sticks. Seeing the community’s love for this sweet, Lisa had a friend introduce her to Martha Beckett who is the great great granddaughter of the Beckett family. Lisa was able to meet with the Beckett family and they were kind enough to share the recipe with Lisa. Even though it takes a couple of days to make each batch, the payoff is well worth it since people from all across the country buy Beckett’s Honey Sticks, especially around Christmas.

Beckett’s Honey Sticks may be a local favorite, but Lisa’s preference is to make and consume fudge! Lisa says, “My personal weakness is fudge. I make it and tend to concentrate on tried and true flavors like chocolate, peanut butter, peanut butter/chocolate, caramel sea salt, maple and Maine blueberry. I love to make it … basically because I sample as I go!”

Interior of Sweeties Downeast

Lisa’s success is attributed to her “labor of love”; she put in hours upon hours of work into her business starting off. Lisa personally took on many responsibilities such as staffing the store alone, designing and decorating the space, and other operations. Lisa says, “If you were to look on it as a salaried position, it doesn’t make sense”, but the “benefits are huge”. Lisa’s strategy was to do everything she possibly could by herself and it has been one of the contributing factors to her success. 

Her work ethic and dedication to Sweeties Downeast helped her business survive when the pandemic hit in March 2020. In order to stay safe during the pandemic, Sweeties Downeast gave each of its customers disposable gloves to wear, which allowed them to continue to give out free samples in-store.

Eastport is an older community, so Sweeties is a big draw for grandkids. Many folks tell me it’s the first place families want to visit when they get to town. I have one little guy who comes every summer. As soon as he gets here, he runs into the store, opens his arms and yells ‘I’m back!’. I live for that -Lisa Stephen

Check out their Facebook page here!

Malachai & Fargo