GREENWOOD – Phenomenal.
That’s how Todd Baker describes sales at his family’s candy outlet store this year.
“This is easily a record year.” Baker said.
Baker, who owns and operates the gourmet chocolate business with his father Kevin and his brother Paul, said his family is grateful for the financial boost the new 6,000 square foot outlet store has given them.
Foot traffic has increased 30 percent since the new outlet store opened in September, he said.
Dianne Abel, retail manager, said she loves the new space, which features wider aisles, original artwork and an overall lighter, brighter retail space.
“The new space allowed business to flow a lot easier this Christmas season,” Abel said. “We had four registers going so people were happy they didn’t have to wait in line.”
Abel estimates that sales during the month of December, more than doubled at the outlet store.
“It’s been pretty exceptional,” Abel said. “In fact it’s been hard keeping enough of our products on the shelves.”
With this holiday season marking the first Christmas in the new store, which faces Highway 6 on Greenwood’s southern end, Baker called the sales jump “a wish list tidal wave.”
He estimates 30 million chocolates were sold in the state of Nebraska, which would give 17 to 18 chocolates to each resident. By that model, Baker’s chocolates “are the most popular Christmas gift in Nebraska,” he said.
Baker said the sales are steady in the candy industry from October to May, with the most important holidays starting with Halloween, and stretching from Christmas to Valentine’s Day and Easter to Mother’s Day.
“We work hard at Christmas, but then we go right into Valentine’s Day with no let up,” he said.
For Baker and his factory and retail staff, there’s really no let up until June.
“June is a good month to go fishing,” he said grinning from ear to ear. “That’s about the only time my family can take an annual fishing trip the week of Father’s Day.”
Baker credits the new outlet store, strategically located between Lincoln and Omaha and accessible to Interstate 80, for putting Greenwood – a town with 400 residents – on the map as one of the state’s most popular shopping destinations.
“Now, we’re cemented as Nebraska’s chocolate,” he said.
Baker said the company appreciates being known for producing world class chocolate meltaways synonymous with the state of Nebraska.
According to the company’s website the term “meltaway” is “a designation of honor given only to the most superlative chocolate confections: a chocolate so decadent and smooth that it literally “melts-a-way,” when applied to the tongue.”
Kevin Baker founded Bakers Candies Inc. in 1987. The plant’s original retail outlet store opened to the public before Valentine’s Day 1988. The business quickly grew to become one of the Midwest’s largest premier chocolate manufacturers.
Today, Baker’s utilizes four fully automated production lines capable of producing more than 2,000 pounds of its signature meltaways each day. The chocolates are produced in a 25,000 square foot plant next to the outlet store. Annually, the plant produces more than a half-million pounds of meltaways each year.