Sweetz & More has four New Hampshire locations, including this one in Manchester; owner Steve Jackson is opening a fifth in Wiscasset. Photo contributed by Steve Jackson

The closure of Wiscasset’s iconic Big Al’s Super Values store last year may have been sour for many, but a sweet new life awaits.

Sweetz & More, a New Hampshire-based candy chain with four locations, will open April 1 in the former Big Al’s building on Route 1, and new owner Steve Jackson is billing it as New England’s largest sweets shop, at 8,100 square feet.

“We’re so excited,” said Jackson, who grew up in Norway and was well-acquainted with Big Al’s from his annual family vacations to Boothbay Harbor.

Al Cohen, known locally as “Big Al,” clad in a familiar animal-themed shirt, stands in his store Big Al’s Super Values in Wiscasset on the store’s last day in business in January 2022. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record file photo

“We would always stop at Big Al’s,” Jackson said. “This past year it was closed, and we were pretty disappointed.”

Big Al, or Al Cohen, shuttered his store in 2022 after 35 years in business, citing worker shortages. He became famous locally for his eccentric television commercials — which will live on in sorts, as Jackson said he filmed a commercial this week for his new candy shop featuring Cohen.

Jackson said he got the idea to take over Big Al’s after a friend mentioned the space would make an excellent candy shop.


“One thing led to another,” said Jackson, who has been in the candy business his entire career. He sold baseball cards with bubble gum to pay for college at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and was hired by a baseball card company before he graduated. He then got into the candy distribution business. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and clients canceled orders, he decided to open his own stores in New Hampshire, first in Tilton and then in North Conway, Merrimack and Manchester.

New England’s largest sweets shop will open in the 8,100-square-foot building that formerly housed Big Al’s Super Values. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record file photo

The Wiscasset store will feature more than 7,500 products, including 835 varieties of retro glass bottle soda, 80 flavors of saltwater taffy and 48 flavors of cotton candy. There will be chocolate-covered gummy bears, Satellite Wafers, Canada Mints, wax bottles and more. There will also be an ice cream bar.

“We work hard to take people out of the everyday,” Jackson said. “When you walk into Sweetz, you get excited. You can feel it in the store. People see products that their grandparents used to buy.”

Jackson said he plans to hire 25-30 workers and keep the store open year-round.

“It’s all coming together,” he said.

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