Holloway entrepreneur keeps retro sweet shops alive...from his spare room

Harry O'Reilly, owner of Lolly's Sweets. Picture: Harry O'Reilly

Harry O'Reilly, owner of Lolly's Sweets. Picture: Harry O'Reilly - Credit: Archant

A Holloway entrepreneur is celebrating one year in the sweet shop business – after beating depression.

Harry O’Reilly runs online venture Lolly’s Sweet Treats from his spare room in Westbourne Road.

Inspired by his nan’s tales of Mari Long’s old sweet shop in Liverpool Road, Harry stocks 140 varieties of traditional treats, from peanut brittle to aniseed balls.

It marks a welcome change in fortunes for the 29-year-old.

“I suffered depression and social anxiety disorder,” Harry says. “As a result, I developed an alcohol problem. I was unemployed and didn’t see a way out.

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“I approached the Prince’s Trust with my idea. They got back to me a few weeks later, when I had completely forgotten that I even sent the email!”

After being guided through the trust’s year-long Enterprise scheme, Harry was ready to go alone. “It feels amazing to reach a year,” he says. “It has given me my confidence back after being resigned to a life on benefits.”

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Harry’s inspiration came from an innocuous family conversation: “My mum and nan were born and bred in Islington. I love local history and always ask them about Islington in the old days.

“My nan talked about Mari Long’s sweet shop, and how that kind of shop has died out.

“So there was the idea for my own shop, even if it is online.

“But once people know where to buy them, the demand for traditional sweets is still there.”

See lollyssweets.co.uk for more.

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