Walking into Rissi's Old Time Candy & Toys in Berwyn is like
stepping into the past. With its 10-cent gumballs, wax lips and
candy buttons, many parents come in just to show their children how
things were when they were kids.
Owner Tracy Balnis opened the store in December after taking a
roadtrip along Route 66. She loved the old-time stores and, after
buying an antique gumball machine for $10 at one of them, she
decided to open her own store. "As I kept going to more places, I'd
find inspiration of how I would set up a store," she says.
Rissi's sells nostalgic candy, toys and Filbert's old-time
draft sodas. Candy is priced by the piece or weight, so visitors
can pick and choose a selection without spending much.
"It's so inspiring to see the kids come in with a dollar and
they're excited because things are 10 cents, 15 cents, 25 cents,"
Balnis says. "They love it."
Balnis hopes the shop, with a pink and white checkered floor
and vintage table and chairs, becomes a place for people to gather
over draft sodas and shaved ice like in the old days. Decked out in
her vintage-style bright red apron, Balnis herself looks like she
walked right out of a candy store of old. But don't be fooled,
she's a tech-savvy businesswoman who would be lost without her
The only hitch in her plan involves her children.
Balnis, who has nine children ranging from 24 to 3 years old,
originally thought the store would be a place where the kids could
hang out and help. "They love it, but all they want to do is eat
the candy," she says. "Now I leave them home with my oldest."
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.