Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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February 14, 2013

Shoppers seek out traditional sweets for their sweeties

GOSHEN — What does a couple get each other for Valentine’s Day when they own a nut and candy shop and stay open an hour later to make sure customers have just the right gifts for their loved ones?

“Our gift to each other is a quiet and peaceful night at home,” said Justin Bell, who owns The Nut Shoppe in downtown Goshen along with his wife, Danae. “We make dinner and just enjoy the night together.”

Last-minute shoppers in downtown Goshen can stop in the store until 6 p.m. today or go down a couple blocks to Olympia Candy Kitchen to get that special gift until 5 p.m.

Jim Miller of Middlebury stepped inside the Olympia Candy Kitchen Wednesday afternoon and looked at a glass case filled with a colorful variety of heart-shaped boxes.

“I just need this box here,” Miller said, pointing to a traditional red box. He told employee Samantha Oligee the varieties of candy to place inside the box, including dark chocolate peanut butter balls, three rum balls, dark chocolate pecans, cashews and almonds along with some turtle clusters.

“I’m a typical last-minute husband in getting something for my wife (Cindy),” Miller said, laughing. “I might have a sample of her chocolates. I don’t know if I will get her anything else, that’s to be determined. We look forward to Valentine’s Day and go out to dinner.”

Miller said it’s been a tradition to get a box of candy from Olympia Candy Kitchen.

“It’s a good tradition and people love your candy,” Miller told fourth-generation owner Kare Andersen.

The day before Valentine’s Day and the day of the holiday are the busiest, Andersen added.

“We’ve had a long line a couple times but it’s been steady — a good pace,” he said. “The old-fashioned heart is the most popular (for boxes) and the solid chocolate hearts and turtles are popular candy choices.”

As customers walk inside the door and look up above the candy case, an extra-large heart box with ruffled ribbons and a large bow on the lid can be bought for $179.

“We maybe sell only one or two a year,” Andersen said. “It’s more for the ‘ooh and aah’ effect but we have had people buy in it the past.”

Both candy shop owners said they began making candy for Valentine’s Day right after Christmas.

“We have about six weeks to get ready,” Andersen said. “Last year, the actual day of the holiday was the busiest. We never know from year to year. We have a lot of kids buy the smaller hearts. It’s the full spectrum from kids to adults. Everybody likes candy.”

And nuts are popular for gifts as well as the hand-dipped gourmet chocolates including turtles, caramels, and creams in the nut shop.

Star Scott of Elkhart browsed around the store, trying to decide what to get for her husband.

“He loves nuts and I come here every year. He likes them all but I’ll probably get cashews,” Scott said.

She picked up a heart-shaped box of turtles for herself.

“I love these and I get some every year,” Scott said, as she paid Bell for her purchases.

Bell added he’ll have customers coming into the store the day after Valentine’s Day.

“They will say ‘I need more chocolate because I forgot,’” he said, chuckling.

Better late than never.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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