Job training opportunities at your neighnborhood candy store

“Little Things” candy store sells hard-to-find ethnic and classic candy in a family-friendly environment

Lantern Group, a non-profit developer of New York City affordable housing announces the opening of Little Things candy store at 1322 Coney Island Ave. in Brooklyn, a new retail establishment that will further Lantern’s commitment to assisting their special-needs residents in overcoming employment barriers.

Little Things is an old-fashioned candy store that will showcase a wide variety of sweets, snacks, coffee and drinks. Catering to the diversity of the neighborhood, Little Things will also serve a variety of kosher products, Russian chocolates, and Middle Eastern fruits and nuts. American classics like Squirrel Nut Zippers, Jaw Breakers, Necco Wafers, and Mary Janes will also line the shelves at this new “socially responsible” Midwood candy store.

The 400-square-foot store is leased by Lantern Group and exemplifies its efforts to build independence through employment by providing job training opportunities to individuals with limited experience or knowledge of the workforce.

“Little Things is a project that focuses on increasing the social and economic independence of our clients and tenants through an emphasis on employment,” said Jessica Katz, executive director of Lantern Group. “Little Things offers job training to those with employment barriers and presents employees with challenging, yet doable tasks within the store. This method helps arm them with the job skills needed to advance and gain employment outside of our stores.”

This new social enterprise is supported by the South Beach Psychiatric Center (a division of the New York State Office of Mental Health) and is based on a model of employment training that emphasizes the transformative power of work.

A workplace setting, like that promoted by Lantern, offers the opportunity for people to learn vocational skills that can be utilized in obtaining true community-based jobs. This helps to facilitate hope and recovery for adults with mental illness,” said Marty Erman, Director of Wellness & Recovery Services at South Beach Psychiatric Center. “We are happy to partner with this organization in an effort to promote the mental health of all consumers who seek to establish themselves in the role of being a person who works, which is so meaningful in being seen as a contributing citizen in our society.”

Workers at the candy store operate all aspects of the business. The Lantern Group’s job training program covers the basics of employment, teaching trainees the importance of showing up to work on time, how to groom themselves properly, and the ins and outs of working in retail. Once these skills are mastered, trainees progress to a more challenging level which includes learning how to use the cash register, marketing the products, and conducting inventory. The training is overseen by Lantern but is taught by previous graduates of the program, who offer not only a comfortable environment for trainees, but also provide a sense of inspiration by their example of success.

After a soft launch last week, Little Things is now operating on a full time schedule and staff members range from new trainees to experienced managers. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.– 6 p.m. The store is located near the B/Q train to Avenue J. Little Things is Lantern Group’s second store run under this model – the first, a traditional corner store, is located nearby at 1083 McDonald Avenue, also in Brooklyn.

About Lantern Group:

Lantern Group is a not-for-profit developer of affordable housing, particularly for people living with a continuing disability and who have a history of homelessness. Lantern Group’s mission is to develop housing that strengthens New York City communities. Lantern Community Services (LCS), also a not-for-profit corporation, is the supportive services provider in buildings developed by the Lantern Group and provides social services at twelve Lantern Group buildings totaling more than 1,000 apartments for low-income, formerly homeless, and disabled tenants. Lantern Community Services works to eliminate homelessness by operating safe, decent, affordable housing, and by providing opportunity for homeless and very low income people to improve their lives. The goal is to help residents achieve greater independence, attain housing and economic stability, and improve mental and physical outcomes. This is achieved by providing on-site tenant services, teaching basic independent living skills and connecting tenants to local resources in the neighborhoods where they live.

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