Leading a hot LI candy retailer's summer sugar rush

General manager of The Port Jefferson Frigate, Roger

General manager of The Port Jefferson Frigate, Roger Rutherford, has worked at the candy and ice cream shop for more than 20 years. Photo Credit: Kristy Leibowitz

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For Roger Rutherford, the world of candy, ice cream and fudge is more than just occasional indulgence, it's a serious full-time business.

As general manager of Port Jefferson Frigate, a candy shop expecting $1.6 million in revenue this year, weather permitting, he oversees everything from staff scheduling to product selection.

Rutherford, 38, of Rocky Point, started at the Frigate 20 years ago, having just moved with his family from Guyana. After rising through the ranks, he is now the face of the store and offers the first "hello" to many of the 4,000 to 6,000 customers who visit on a busy summer Saturday.

In addition to ice cream, gelato and bakery stations, the Frigate has 300 bins of candy. How do you oversee that much stock?

For every candy that we have in the store, we have to have a backup of it. If a customer comes in and buys 20 of the last one on the shelf, I want to have another 20 in storage. In addition to what you see on the floor, we have a whole other operation going upstairs that fuels the business. It's nothing for us to [restock] 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of candy in a day.

Everyone has different tastes in candy. Do you ever have to pull a product off the shelves?

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Not to knock the products themselves, but some things are just not worth the effort. Gumballs weren't going very well for us. We had a selection of about 35 different kinds, different colors, different flavors, even different fillings, and they didn't do very well. We've since cut it down to about a dozen.

What's your top selling candy?

Gummy Bears. They're still one of the most popular candies out there.

The Frigate relies heavily on summer sales. How do you handle the organization of seasonal employees?

A couple of things that work really well for us is that when the season starts winding down, that's when most of our help are going back to college, so it balances out. Once the season starts picking up in the spring, that's when our employees come back. It really works out for us.

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What is your favorite treat?

A little bit of soft vanilla ice cream and peanut brittle. You can keep everything else, but those are my two.

What do you do off-season?

It's not a flat slow period where you sit there and wait for summer. Yes, it slows down, but we're able to focus on upcoming plans, and it gives us the time to plan for the various holidays. That's one of the things I love about the off-season.


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NAME: Roger Rutherford, general manager of Port Jefferson Frigate in Port Jefferson

WHAT IT DOES: Retailer of candy, ice cream and baked desserts.

EMPLOYEES: 55, 25 to 40 in the off-season.

REVENUE: $1.4 million to $1.6 million, projected for 2014

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