Just south of the City in Gasoline Alley, you will find the Sweet Market Esso, nestled along the westside of bustling Leva Avenue. A drive along this roadway will take locals and visitors into the popular shopping area, dotted with endless dining and service options to suit anyone’s needs.
So, what is this Sweet Market Esso all about, you ask? You may have driven past and thought, oh there is a gas station, but there are a few up ahead too so let’s keep going and stop up the way. All the while wondering, what exactly makes an Esso a “Sweet Market”?
Trust us, stop here once and you will never look at service stations the same way again! Read ahead to learn how this Tourism Red Deer Member took an ordinary business opportunity to an extraordinary level. Resulting in share-worthy experiences from a quirky little service station just down the road in Gasoline Alley.
What makes you different, unique or stand out?
“We are a family-owned Alberta business that offers an exceptional service station experience,” says managers Tim Anderson and Leah Walker, of Sweet Market Esso (Gasoline Alley Esso). “The owners have made it their mission over the years to reimagine the gas station model,” says Anderson and Walker. “They have found creative solutions for each of their Alberta locations, which are different and unique by their offerings.
The Gasoline Alley Sweet Market Esso is no exception and is the first of its kind, offering a large selection of candy from all over the world. Their thematic décor and fun atmosphere will turn a quick pitstop into a fully encompassed experience. Once described as an “Amusement Park in a Gas Station”, or something from a Willy Wonka, Harry Potter scene, we would be curious to know what childhood wonders might come to mind during your visit?
“We’re Your Candy Headquarters!” exclaims Anderson and Walker. “We carry Canadian candy, Dutch candy, Halal candy, Sugar-free candy, and many favourites from the United States and Europe.”
Sweet Market Esso openly brags about their restrooms, and rightfully so! Picture a restroom in a ritzy hotel lobby, a chic restaurant commode with trendy touches or an artistic HGTV inspired bathroom makeover. In 2019 Sweet Market Esso was a Nominee for a Canada’s Best Restroom Award, a sister property (under the same ownership) won the 2013 title in Valleyview, AB.
Why do you do what you do?
“The owners used to do a lot of travelling and had many service station encounters along the way,” says Anderson and Walker. “They were inspired to do something unique, to attract families to stop, make it fun for the kids, and offer nice clean bathrooms to freshen up in. Ultimately they wanted to provide an experience, and play a part in the guest’s greater journey.”
“We enjoy seeing people have fun and experiencing something outside of a normal retail experience,” says Anderson and Walker. “I enjoy being a part of the entrepreneurial spirit brought from the owners,” says Anderson. “I enjoy the challenge of bringing something different to the market.” Walker agrees, “I am happy to be a part of this business because it is always changing, it is very exciting to be a part of a business model like this,” Walker says. “The family feel makes it easy to connect to our work and in turn our community.”
What can guests (local or visiting) expect to experience?
“Guests can expect a welcoming and fun atmosphere, with lively music always playing,” says Anderson and Walker. “Plus, they will find unique items that can’t be found in other places.
Watch the train that winds throughout the store, or marvel at the gummy bear chandelier, as you contemplate which sweet selections you might try. You will find local and originally sourced products from The Cotton Candy Shoppe from Edmonton, Cornucopia Gourmet Popcorn from Castor, and True Bliss Cheesecake from Innisfail. As well as fresh deli sandwiches, Vegan and Vegetarian selections and Paninis that are toasted to perfection in their brick Italian pizza oven.
“Guests can also rest assured that COVID-19 regulations and safe handling are always followed,” says Anderson and Walker. “Bulk candy purchases have been put on pause, but we offer convenient pre-packaged cups full of your favourites for an easy-to-grab option instead.”
What is new or upcoming?
“Kick Ass Caramels, from Stony Plain, AB will be moving in with us very soon,” says Anderson and Walker. “We currently carry their products, but they will soon be crafting their delicious caramels right in-house which will provide a viewing opportunity for guests. Not to mention it is going to smell amazing in here!”
If you have yet to stopped in at Sweet Market Esso, be sure to take the time to pop in the next time you are heading to Gasoline Alley. Do not let this service station go undiscovered in your travels, yes, they offer many familiar service station items, gasoline included, but they are so much more. Tim, Leah, and the Sweet Market Esso team invite you to come in say hi and check out their many offerings. Allow your inner child’s senses the opportunity to “be a kid in a candy store” and enjoy this unique fun-filled experience as you #ExploreRedDeersBackyard.
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