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b.a. Sweetie buys Campbell’s Sweets Factory

Here’s a deal, between two well-known Cleveland names, that pops.

Late Monday, Nov. 16, wholesale distributor b.a. Sweetie Candy Co. announced it has acquired Campbell’s Sweets Factory, a popcorn and sweets manufacturer. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Tom Scheiman, owner and president of b.a. Sweetie, said in a phone interview that his company has distributed Campbell’s products for the past seven or eight years, and it “sells very well.” The two companies in that time have had “a great relationship,” Scheiman said. He said when Campbell’s owner Jeff Campbell approached him a few months ago about a possible deal, he was immediately interested, and the purchase came together in about three months.

Campbell wasn’t immediately available for comment. In a news release, he said, “We’re excited to have the support and expertise of b.a.Sweetie to grow the Campbell’s brands and are confident more North East Ohio consumers will be pleased with enjoying our delicious products.”

B.a. Sweetie operates a 40,000-square-foot distribution center and retail store on Brookpark Road, where it makes popcorn under the name All-American Popcorn. Scheiman said the addition of Campbell’s brings significant expertise and “phenomenal equipment” to b.a. Sweetie’s operations.

“It’s a great way to build that part of our business,” said Scheiman, who bought b.a. Sweetie in 1982 from founder Al Tokar. (The business was started in 1950.)

Campbell’s, started in 2004, operates a popcorn manufacturing and distribution facility in the Hildebrandt Building on Cleveland’s West Side; a bakery and chocolate kitchen on West 25th Street; and two locations within the West Side Market.

Scheiman said b.a. Sweetie intends to maintain all of those operations. He noted that the Campbell’s locations within the West Side Market have seen a “major drop in traffic,” like most operations within the market. But he said the company is committed to maintaining those sites, at least through 2021, to see what improvements might happen at the market.

“We’re very committed to Cleveland,” he said.

B.a. Sweetie has 48 employees, while Campbell’s has 16.

Scheiman said one of his goals with the addition of Campbell’s is to broaden distribution of the company’s popcorn and other products. He noted, for instance, that Campbell’s products at present have fairly limited distribution in Giant Eagle and Heinen’s stores, but b.a. Sweetie’s relationships with those companies can bolster product availability.

This pandemic year has been tough on most small businesses, but Scheiman said that this fall, sales at b.a. Sweetie are exceeding 2019 levels.

“We call it recession-resilient,” he said of the company’s goodies.

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