Monday, March 27, 2006

Reopening Grandpa’s Candy Kitchen

“My grandfather opened up his candy shop and soda fountain shop in 1901. My dad ran it through the mid-1970s. He raised three kids there, but we all moved away to the big cities.” Ann Beck was explaining to me a little of the history of Flesor’s Candy Kitchen ( in Tuscola, IL (population 4,488), one of my agurbs®. We were in Tuscola last week doing our first Boomtown Bootcamp. More on that on future blogs.

“The building sat empty for thirty years but came up for sale about three years ago. One of my sisters and I decided to buy it. We found the old store fixtures stored in a building in town. We got some TIF funding, a grant and took on a big loan. We opened 18 months ago and having been having good success.” Their candy shop has been featured in a number of publications including the Wall Street Journal.

Ann and her sister make some great candy. I’d gotten a box of it when I was in Tuscola last month giving a talk. I bought a box of it for my mom at the IL Products Expo. She loved it also.

Candy making, cheese, wineries and other products are all trends that I’m seeing in niche agricultural products being produced by entrepreneurs in rural America. What are you doing to encourage these producers in your area?

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