Cotton Candy 101
Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for answers? Our FAQ page is a compilation of responses to some of the more popular questions that have come our way.

How did you get your name?

Way back at the beginning, our Founder and President, John Houlding, himself a former Olympic rower, started out by selling t-shirts (the ‘cotton’) with cool rowing graphics on the front (the ‘candy’). The business evolved but the name was just too memorable to let go. 

How long have you been in business?

Cotton Candy has been in continuous operation since we first opened our doors in 1992, and we’ve been getting bigger and better every day since.

Where are you located?

We have operational facilities in the United States and in Canada. Our USA sales office is located in Chicago, IL. Our Canadian sales offices span from Halifax to Vancouver. Further, we maintain warehousing facilities in Waukegan, IL, in Calgary Alberta, and at our corporate headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario.

View Our Locations to find a location near you!

Do you sell cotton candy?

A fair and frequent question! Short answer is, no, not in the retail sense. But should your company happen to be putting on a family oriented, fall fair themed event, for example, and a certain fluffy sweet carnival treat turns out to be the ideal giveaway, especially with your corporate branding tastefully applied to the outside of the bag it comes in, we can hook you up. 

Do you sell promotional products?

Yes, we sell branded merchandise for a variety of purposes including promotional ones. Other uses would include corporate image and brand reinforcement, event support, employee recognition, and customer loyalty, to name but a few. To that end, what we really sell are smart, tangible, effective marketing solutions that target our client’s specific objectives. What you’re really buying from us is equal parts strategic thinking, creativity, product awareness, buying savvy, quality control, brand policing, logistical wizardry, and noticeable results. 

Try our Product Search function browse our product offerings.

Do you sell to the public?

We are a business-to-business (we prefer B4B!) sales organization. However, we do operate two corporate online store programs whose branded merchandise is for sale to the public. Cotton Candy is the official licensee of Parks Canada merchandise. Not only do we maintain the online store which sells a line of souvenirs, but we also created for the retail fashion market a Parks Canada brand of line of casual weekend wear that is available through Hudson’s Bay at The other store we operate that is also open to the public is for Canada Blood Services, the not-for profit organization that is responsible for all blood and stem cell donations in Canada.

What brands do you carry?

At last count, we had a list of 3583 companies comprising your favorite retail brands plus manufacturers and suppliers who work exclusively for the corporate marketplace.  

Do you do import orders?

Lots of them. While we prefer to search for local suppliers first, going offshore is often the only practical course of action for sourcing certain products, quantities or price points. In every case, we work with our network of trusted agents who make sure we’re dealing with accredited and fully compliant manufacturing facilities. Moreover, as a matter of policy we enlist the expert services of global, independent testing facilities to confirm that metallurgical, chemical and other manufacturing safety standards are being met during and after production. When your offshore order arrives in our warehouse, you can be sure it’s exactly what was expected.

Do you use local suppliers?

That is absolutely our preference.

Are your products guaranteed?

Yes.  We stand 100% behind the quality of the merchandise we sell. We can do this because we only deal with suppliers who have proven their worth to us time and again, and because we place quality above all else in our search for suitable products. You’re hiring us to ensure that any product adorned with your logo is one that properly reflects your brand’s image. That’s a promise we’ve been delivering on for more than two decades. 

Do you ever invent products?

Yes.  We have some very creative minds that like to think outside the box and are really good at coming up with original product ideas. Taking a product from initial concept through to finished production is a particularly rewarding part of what we do. 

What is the coolest order you've ever done?

We’ve done lots of neat things, but a recent one that sticks out is this; one of our clients was holding a sales conference and needed us to come up with a gift to present to their keynote guest speaker, Canadian Astronaut, Chris Hatfield. He’s a remarkable guy who has literally spent months circling the earth, strumming his guitar, tweeting up a storm and drinking in the most spectacular views of the cosmos and of our planet. As you can imagine, Chris is in high demand on the speaker circuit and no doubt he’s been gifted more pens and leather portfolios than he knows what to do with. You should have seen his face when he opened a tiny gift box to find a platinum guitar pick with our client’s logo laser etched on it.   

Do you have a catalog?

We were among the first in our industry to publish our very own catalogs and did so for upwards of a decade. A couple of years ago, in an effort to embrace the digital revolution and to be more environmentally responsible, we dropped the hard copy and switched to a digital flipbook catalog. With the advancement of the Internet in our world, we have elected to phase out the flipbook and focus instead on making our weblogs and search engine the ideal way for our clients to keep current with the ever advancing world of products and imprinting techniques.

How many clients do you have?

Our current client roster numbers around 1350 companies and the vast majority of those have multiple buyers.  

Our clients come from all manner of business fields including law and finance, consumer retail, automotive, medical and pharmaceutical, sports and entertainment, agriculture, mining, petrochemical, tourism and many more.

Would we recognize any of their names?

Absolutely. Our client list includes some of the most recognizable and respected companies and brands in North America, many of whom you are no doubt familiar with. While it might make a quick and powerful testimonial advertisement for Cotton Candy to share the names of the companies and organizations that place their faith in our abilities, the confidentiality of our client relationships is paramount. 

How can you help my business?

Without presuming to know what your business does, or how precisely you might benefit from our particular services and abilities, we can start by being an experienced, capable, enthusiastic, creative marketing ally in your corner. We can help you to generate nothing but positive awareness for your brand in the eyes of your existing and future customers, your suppliers, your business partners and supporters, your employees and prospective ones, your boardrooms or your shareholder meetings. We can do this by finding for you products that are the right fit for the task at hand, that are imprinted in strictest accordance with your brand standards, and that are ideal reflections of the very brands they are representing.

Let us help you with our Mojo For Your Logo function, tell us a bit about what you are looking for and we will match you with the perfect product for your next promotion! 

What artwork do I need?

Ideally, your logo artwork is created in Vector format. If you have this, we can easily adapt it to whatever decorating methods you desire. No Vector art files? Not to worry. We can call in our graphics team to create or adapt whatever you need. 

Why should I buy from you?

We could give you a page and a half of great reasons, like our industry leading Customer Service excellence, the fact that we don’t miss deadlines, the preferred buyer status we’ve earned over time with a good number of our suppliers, the professional marketer’s approach we take, the outstanding character of our team members, the core values of honesty, integrity and respect that guide us every day, or the way we embrace creativity at every turn.

We could do that, but the best answer is, because we care about your brand as much as you do.

View Our Services for for more information on how we can help your business.

What happens if you can’t make a deadline?

Honestly, we make it a rule to never find out! Not to say we haven’t cut it close on occasion, but that becomes the stuff of Cotton Candy legend.

Take the time we stepped in to help a desperate client whose supplier had left them high and dry. We had just 48-hours to get commemorative coin sets (our idea) all the way from Ottawa to their CEO in Beijing who was set to host dignitaries at an historic company event. Long story short, the last member of our remarkable relay team hand delivered them to that CEO with a cool 45 minutes to spare.

Another time, we found out on a Friday that a courier company (that doesn’t work weekends) had sent our client’s three-box order of conference materials (shipped from Ontario to Alberta eight days previously) to three different depots! Just to make it a true ‘Cotton Candy’ challenge, the conference was to start first thing the next day at a remote resort in a distant National Park. It took a network of eight people across 2,000 miles – including one heroic and intrepid team member who drove eight hours in the winter dark with a freezing rain warning in effect – to make sure that our client’s Saturday meeting started without a hitch.

We keep track of these and other similar heroic sagas in a journal called “Tales from the Trenches” and it’s a truly inspiring read. The never-say-never character of our team is as good as it gets in any industry, let alone promotional products.

Do you run company stores?

Yes. The Program Sales Team at Cotton Candy has been doing exactly that on behalf of many of our Cotton Candy clients for many years. From graphics and the design stage, through IT integration, implementation and launch, order processing, packing and shipping, and follow-up reporting, we do it all. 

How do I know if my business is suited to an online store?

If you have a number of buyers or divisions in your organization, possibly spread out across a large geographic area, and who tend to purchase good quantities of the same items on a regular basis, your business might be ideally suited to a company online store. Reach out to us at and we will be happy to sit down with you to learn a little more about your buying patterns and whether an online store is viable option for your company. 

What awards have you won?

Let us preface this by saying that the most important recognition we believe we can ever receive is the continuing trust in our abilities by our many, many long-standing clients. (Were there awards for that, we would have a trophy case filled!)

Most recently, at the 2017 Image Awards, we were recognized as a Distributor of the Year and won six awards for our efforts of the previous year including three gold, one silver and two bronze. One of the awards was won by our in-house decorating team, who took home gold for ‘Best Embroidery’. 

What steps do you take to ensure Compliancy and Sustainability?

We take these issues very seriously. The ultimate responsibility lies with our President. Reporting directly to him is our company’s full-time Sustainability Officer whose responsibility it is to establish and maintain the processes and policies that ensure each and every product that Cotton Candy delivers to its clients has met the highest standards in manufacturing, government regulations and industry best practices. The bottom line is, Cotton Candy is committed to working only with suppliers who share our core values in quality, safety, social accountability, human rights, ethics, and environmental responsibility.

We seek out suppliers who are able to demonstrate their capabilities through certifications such as WRAP, ISO 9000 registration, and independent third party production audits. In addition, suppliers must also be able to demonstrate their current standing when it comes to social and environmental compliance.

If suppliers are not able to provide paperwork, we mandate agreement of compliance with Cotton Candy’s Code of Conduct, a guiding tool that outlines our commitment to the universally accepted standards of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), International Labor Organization (ILO), and UN Global Compact. This document is has been translated to Mandarin specifically for our dealings with Chinese manufacturers.

We will not proceed with any supplier that does not, at a minimum, agree to conduct business in the spirit of the principles laid out in the Code of Conduct. Moreover, the core value by which we protect Cotton Candy’s long standing reputation as a reliable supplier is that we are uncompromising in our prioritization of Quality and Reputation over Pricing at every instance. We are vigilant in excluding non/low compliance vendors from our supply chain and work to phase out any supplier who does not demonstrate cooperation, progress or improvement.