Businesses Without Borders: Nuts for Candy & Toys’ Sweet Success

3 mins read

Along Broadway Avenue in Burlingame, nestled between restaurants and boutiques, a small shop with “Nuts for Candy & Toys” neatly pasted in golden letters across its window stands out. Glancing through the window, the store  is covered with every child’s delight: candies and toys. However, this is not your typical candy store. Over the last 29 years, Nora and John Kevranian’s candy and toy store has not only brought smiles to children, but has also created a lasting impact on the community through their service and philanthropy.

Opening in December 1994, the shop is the third oldest business along Broadway. After Nora and John Kevranian married in 1993, the newlywed couple wanted to venture into something new. So they decided to take over John’s parents’ store and open a candy store. John said, “Before opening, we went to a lot of different candy stores. We looked to see how they were decorating their stores and what they were selling.” After six months of preparations, the store opened its doors on Broadway. “We opened the business as a startup. It had four walls. We designed everything, we bought the fixture, and started the entire business.”

Just a few months into their first year, though, the store faced its first major setback. “When we first opened the business, we brought in a lot of chocolates and candies. And several months later, we had a major heat wave. We did not have an air conditioner and we never thought of installing one. Nobody in the business told us. So when the heatwave came, we lost thousands of dollars worth of chocolates,” said Nora Kevranian. 

The store made a buzz in the late 1990s during the toy craze as people of all ages scrambled to build their Beanie Baby collections. John Kevranian said, “We had some wonderful years in 1997, ‘98, ‘99.  We were known as the Beanie Baby Kings in the Peninsula.” Over the years, the store has become a pillar in the community. From hosting toy drives to advocating for local policy changes, the Kevranians have built a popular hub. The store is known for its annual toy drive with the Burlingame Fire Department. “Last year, we collected 25 barrels of toys. Over the last 25 plus years, we’ve donated over 20,000 toy collections.” 

In 2016, the shop won the Business of the Year Award for California due to their volunteer work and dedication to the community. Only 80 businesses were chosen out of 3.3 million businesses. When you enter the store, you can immediately see the walls covered with awards recognizing the shop from the city level to the national level. Nuts for Candy & Toys has become the heart of downtown Burlingame, and the Kevranians have built a strong relationship with the community.  “I know every single business owner and I know a majority of the property owners. I walk Broadway three times a day and chat with people on the street. I work with the city council very closely.” said John Kevranian.

In 2019, the shop owners also received an award from Congresswoman Jackie Speier for their toy donation to refugees in Texas. “I found out Speier was going to the McAllen Detention Center in Texas. She was going to take a look at the refugees and undocumented families and how they were treated. So I sent 400 stuffed animals for the kids.”

The couple values giving back to the community. John Kevranian said, “It’s my responsibility and my job to give back to this community because this community opened up their arms and accepted us in this country.” Born in Beirut, Lebanon, John Kevranian came to the United States in 1976 at the age of nine. “We left Beirut, Lebanon because there was a civil war. My dad didn’t want his kids to be raised in a country where there’s war.” When he first immigrated to the US, John Kevranian did not speak any english. He said, “In 1976 when we came to this county at the age of nine. I did not speak a world of English. I was in ESL Class. I won’t forget the care and love that my ESL teachers gave me to make me feel comfortable like a family member.” Nora Kevranian was originally from Jerusalem, Israel. She moved to Canada at the age of eight and then moved to the United States after marrying John. 

The couple is committed to open the shop seven days a week with their commitment to improving the community and team work. John Kevranian said, “I dedicate 600 to 700 hours a year to the Business Improvement District downtown. I’m lucky that I’m able to do that as a volunteer because of my wife being in the store. During the day she’s running the business, and I’m out helping others.”

John Kevranian is currently the President of the Broadway Burlingame Business Improvement District. John Kevranian said, “Everyone should be able to make a change in their community for the good. We can’t only think about ourselves. Because if you care about your community, you do good for others. Life will be better for everyone”

Find more information about Nuts for Candy & Toys here

Eileen is a junior in her second year of journalism. She enjoys covering local businesses in the community and environmental issues. In her free time, she enjoys photography and painting.


  1. John
    Much like your dad a wonderful human.
    Congratulations to you and Nora. Our kids went to Lincoln together. They are all successful and making a place in this world. You and Nora are like your parents. Pillars in this community. And yes beanie babies still rock. You are blessed. Margueritecholakian

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