A flavor of times gone by
The store has a flavor of nostalgia. From the emerging red and yellow exterior - reminiscent of an old railroad caboose - to the bulk taffy, hard candies, gumballs, jawbreakers and chewy caramels inside that a kid can buy three-for-a-quarter, the...
The store has a flavor of nostalgia.
From the emerging red and yellow exterior - reminiscent of an old railroad caboose - to the bulk taffy, hard candies, gumballs, jawbreakers and chewy caramels inside that a kid can buy three-for-a-quarter, the Candy Caboose is making a new home in North End.
In addition to nostalgic and contemporary candies, the store offers t-shirts, balloons, gift baskets and cards, making it a convenient stop when a birthday or special occasion comes up. In November, the owners plan to add a small Christmas shop for the holiday season.
The economy prompted Dan and Cris Crum to relocate their enterprises, a move that turned the nostalgic candy shop around, and provided space for the couple's other enterprises, including Northern Edge Graphics, which makes vinyl graphics and custom hat and shirt designs; Superior Portage, a wholesaler that builds portage pads for outfitters in Wisconsin and Minnesota; and Northern Express Gift.
"We lost a lot of money last year," said owner Cris Crum, who runs the candy store and other enterprises with her husband from the building that served as the Fagerlin Fuel office for 130 years. A peak under the yellow cover on the counter reveals the glass-encased coal the fuel company once sold.
Relocating to North Sixth Street and Baxter Avenue proved to be a good decision, according to Crum.
"We get a lot more walk in traffic now than we did at the Depot - a lot more people driving by," she said. "Especially since we've been painting now it's starting to help too ... we've been in the black every month since we opened."
Previously located in the Winter Street Depot, Crum said when the owner of both buildings, Jim DeMeyer, gave her an opportunity to relocate, she and Dan decided to give it a try.
None of this would have been possible without DeMeyer, Crum said.
While the faltering economy prompted the couple to move their operations to North Sixth Street and Baxter Avenue, it also allowed them to work in the neighborhood they call home.
"I like living where I have my business," Crum said. "My customers are more than just customers - they're family, friends. Like the little kid down the street will come in without his Mom to say 'hi.'" Another customer who sings in the Salvation Army Choir came in and sang "Amazing Grace"; where are you going to find that, she asked.
Most of the Mom and Pop candy and grocery stores that graced Superior neighborhoods have long ago closed.
Crum, who bought the candy business from DeMeyer, said she bought the business because people remembered Necco wafers, candy dots and wax bottles, but she'd hoped it could be something more, something she's found in her corner store in North End.
"When I bought it, I wanted to bring back that nostalgic feeling of the candy store that we all remembered, and give that to the kids who never had that," she said. "And they really like it too. I mean, how many kids can say they have a candy store on the corner of their block."