Saturday, December 30, 2017 1:00 am
New owners keeping candy traditions alive
JOSEPH PAUL | Journal and Courier, Lafayette
LAFAYETTE – Although under new ownership this year, longtime traditions at McCord Candies aren't going anywhere.
Ken and Denise Bootsma proved as much this Christmas by continuing to hand-make the shop's signature candy canes and offer tours of its upstairs candy-making operation.
“We didn't want to let the community down,” Denise Bootsma said. “Big shoes to fill, and a lot of people asked me when we first bought it, 'Are you going to keep making candy canes?' We have to.”
McCord's new owners, with no previous restaurant or food service experience, faced a steep learning curve when they bought the shop in June from Mike Becker, who had owned the establishment for roughly 12 years, Ken Bootsma said.
But they were able to hit the ground running thanks to help and training from the previous owner and employees.
“We're a little slower this year in knowing how to do it right away, but we've got it figured out,” Ken Bootsma said.
“They'd go through the night (making candy canes),” he said of the previous owners. “Last year, they pulled 47,000 canes. Well, we're not going to get there this year, but that's OK. We're learning.”
This December, the shop made roughly 1,000 candy canes a day and 30,000 in total, selling them to locals as well as shipping them across the U.S. and to Europe and Asia.
“I make canes with (Ken) in the morning until 11 or 11:30 at night,” Denise Bootsma said before Christmas. “We don't stop because the demand for these canes is so high, and my biggest fear is letting people down and not having enough canes. So I can sleep after (Christmas). Until then, I'm sleep-deprived, and it's OK.”
When the idea arose to buy McCord Candies, the Bootsmas saw a dingy and dilapidated business with lots of potential.
“Buying McCord's to me was trying to give back to the community because McCord's was dying,” Denise Bootsma said. “It was filthy and it was dying.”
Leading up to Christmas, the family spent significant time renovating the inside and outside of the shop, repainting and refinishing parts of its historic building at Sixth and Main streets downtown.
“There's been some satisfaction seeing people walk in and thank me for buying it, because in a year it wouldn't have been here. It would have been closed, and that would have been too bad just from a historic standpoint. It's been here since 1912,” Denise Bootsma said.
“It's fun to hear a lot of older people come in and talk about how their parents brought them when they were little.”
But McCord's owners hope to add new twists to the shop's classics by making special candy canes for Valentine's Day, Easter and other holidays.