Class of 2018
When Jeff Rubin was five years old, he started competing with the neighborhood lemonade stands by selling candy. He says he quickly learned the key to success was not just the product, but how it was merchandised.
Jeff, born March 25, 1964, in Detroit, to Sidney and Marilyn, and brother to Craig, Howard and Dana, was exposed to retail at an early age. His entrepreneurial father had a chain of toy stores giving Jeff the opportunity to attend the Toy Fair in New York City each year and visit the iconic retailer FAO Schwarz. This, along with a visit to Walt Disney World, confirmed to Jeff early on that he wanted to be a “Retailtainer.”
After earning a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and a MBA from the University of Miami, Jeff joined his father and brothers at the family’s retail candy store, Mr. Bulky Treats & Gifts, in 1990.
In 1995, he approached FAO Schwarz Toy Stores with a shop-in- shop candy concept and FAO Schweetz was launched. Jeff partnered with industry giants to conceive fully branded store-within-a-store candy departments, resulting in an upscale entertainment experience akin to the iconic toy store.
The shop quickly became the number one department in the store based on square footage, and the concept grew to more than 30 locations around the country. For his achievements with FAO Schweetz, Jeff was presented with the 1996 Professional Candy Buyer of the Year Award from Professional Candy Buyer magazine.
Building on the success of FAO Schweetz, Jeff went on to develop a candy concept for Warner Bros. Studio Stores and created the Candy Land store, based on the children’s board game, for the Toys “R” Us Times Square flagship location.
Partnering with The Hershey Co., Jeff then helped design, open and operate Hershey World in Times Square, marking the first candy brand with a dedicated store in New York City.
In 2001, Jeff collaborated to launch Dylan’s Candy Bar with Dylan Lauren. The 5,500-square-foot innovative and modern take on a candy shop located in midtown Manhattan remains a top New York City attraction nearly 20 years later.
When Jeff founded IT’SUGAR in 2006, he says he wanted to establish a brand that was bold and unapologetic. Known for its oversized candy, numerous celebrity-driven brands and confectionery-themed innovations, IT’SUGAR is now said to be the largest and fastest-growing specialty candy retailer in the world with 100 stores.
In 2017, Jeff sold IT’SUGAR to BBX Capital Corp. but remains as CEO and continues to manage the company.
Active in the industry, Jeff serves on the NCA Sweets & Snacks Expo Most Innovative New Product Award panel, on the Sweets & Snacks Expo Advisory Board and as a Power Pitch Panelist.
Jeff married Allison in 1989 and they have twin boys, Jason and Bryan. Jeff, who is seldom seen without his dog Skittles, says his dream is to spend his last day on earth in one of his candy stores.