Fruit+Candy manager discusses store’s mission

The latest installment at USC Village, Fruit+Candy offers a cheerful, colorful environment and offers a variety of clothing options. (Sarah Johnson/Daily Trojan)

Located next to the Starbucks in USC Village, Fruit+Candy is the latest retail store to arrive at the University’s mixed-use complex. F+C is replacing SOKFY, a surf lifestyle store that opened and closed in 2018. Despite what its name may suggest, F+C is not a one-stop shop for sweets and fresh produce — it’s actually a clothing and beauty store. 

Manager John Kim, whose parents own the store, said the name was inspired by his childhood experiences of growing up eating plenty of healthy foods while still having a significant sweet tooth. Kim said pairing the two foods was the perfect fit for the store because of its fun wordplay and strong brand identity.

F+C specializes in selling a blend of affordable, high-fashion clothing and creative Korean beauty products. And in an homage to the store’s name, it does offer gourmet Sugarfina candy. The store is brightly lit and provides a colorful ambiance for customers to explore the wide variety of product displays. Through the diversity of the goods it offers, F+C hopes to accumulate a large following of loyal USC customers. 

“Having a stale set of products that don’t change, which might bore customers after our initial opening is what we want to avoid,” Kim said. 

Kim said he knew that traditional marketing and products would fail to appeal to students. 

“[Our goal is to] create a fashion forward and experiential store that we can curate seasonally with changing items so that students can stay engaged and excited to come in on a consistent basis,” Kim said,  

Although the store is relatively new, Fruit + Candy has already grabbed the attention of students passing through USC Village or grabbing a quick bite at Starbucks. This past weekend, sophomore Wylker Tavares, who is majoring in psychology, was attracted by the colorful sign. Since he was in need for a new jacket,  he decided to browse the new store. 

“When walking into the store, I got a very calming vibe; nothing too out-there,” Tavares said. “The employees seemed nice and very cooperative, and the styles of clothing seemed to be a well-thought out blend of preppy and modern casual clothing.” 

Tavares also found that the strategy of placing Sugarfina candy next to the exit of the store was effective to grab customers’ attention on their way out. 

“It was a good concept to have the candy displayed near the entrance because it could entice those leaving after a purchase to go ahead and buy some,” Tavares said. 

The decision to specifically sell Sugarfina candy stems from Kim’s belief that the luxury candy brand perfectly complements F+C’s aesthetic, which he describes as “bright, colorful and fun.” 

Along with a colorful and appealing aesthetic, the manager hopes that the store can provide a warm, welcoming and enjoyable experience for students while also allowing them to engage with the store itself.

“Students are the main focus in a place like this, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we can help them feel heard,” Kim said. 

Through its devotion to Trojan clientele, paired with its eclectic mix of Korean sheet masks, comfy turtlenecks and champagne gummies, F+C hopes to cement its spot in the minds of students and become a staple at USC Village.