Saturday, May 31, 2014

Trees - Shaping Us and Saying Goodbye

EDITORS NOTE: This summer, we will say good bye to an old friend. The giant Norway Spruce that has been an important part of the landscape of Richmond and our candy shop, since 1926. The tree is dying. And although it pains us tremendously, we have been advised by several arborists that the best thing to do is to take it down. The following is a eulogy of sorts written by my father - third generation candymaker Leif Anderson. I hope you can take a few minutes to read his story. And please, come help us give the old Spruce a grand send off on June 28 at our Customer Appreciation and Good-bye Tree Party. Details here:

Humans have been shaping the world around them for eons – clearing forests, rerouting streams, building cities – but every once in a while we are reminded of how the world shapes us.

Our customers, friends, and family, here at Anderson's Candy Shop are probably unaware of how two trees quite literally shaped our store on Route 12 in Richmond.

When my grandpa Arthur Anderson moved his shop from Armitage Ave. in Chicago out to Main St. (there was no U.S. Rt. 12 then) and bought the property our shop sits on today, it was a pretty barren piece of land -- a pasture with a big old farmhouse.

In that time, before air conditioning of course, he planted a maple tree on the southeast side of the farmhouse and a Norway spruce on the northeast side.

My then 7-year-old father, Raynold, helped plant those trees.

The trees and the family grew. Arthur watched his son marry, fight in World War II and have children of his own.

He also watched the trees grown strong and tall, providing cool shade in the morning and early afternoon. The trees provided something else, too, that I'm not sure Grandpa planned on.

The trees became inseparable from the building and the familiar image of the business.

The maple became a large, dense, splash of green that greeted all of the northbound travelers as they came up the hill from Illinois in the summertime headed towards Lake Geneva and other Wisconsin destinations.

In the fall, it became a riot of red and orange providing a beautiful colored canopy to sit under and enjoy as the tourists traveled home.

And for two young boys – Leif and Lars (my brother) – the maple was a childhood friend. We grew up playing hide and seek around it using its large trunk to conceal our then tiny frames.

The spruce - the silent partner in the arboreal couple - became dearer to me as I grew.

It has been included in every picture of the shop we have had commissioned or that has been bestowed upon us. It has also been in the picture on all of our chocolate boxes since the 1970's.

The tallest thing in town outside of the water tower, the spruce has always provided the primary shade for our office upstairs - an area I spent more time in as my mother and father transitioned out and my brother and I came further into running the business.

The spruce's branches and the dozens of birds and squirrels who inhabit them, have also been there for me and my wife to gaze out upon during hard times when we didn't know if we'd make it another year and for happier moments, too.

When my brother and I decided to expand our Richmond shop in the year 2000 and had to have the maple tree removed to make way for our growing families and business expansion, the spruce took on a more prominent role.

The bench that once gave customers a shady place to rest under the maple tree moved to the other side of our building and now sits under the giant gently sloping branches of the spruce.

It is an almost Hobbit-like space providing a cozy privacy in plain sight in contrast to the “showcase” seating under the maple tree.

For the past 15 years now I have enjoyed the new respite spot - sumptuous and serene.

While both trees have been important supporting roles in my personal story, they have also literally shaped the way our shop looks today.

When my grandfather Arthur Anderson put on the first showroom edition to his candy-shop-farmhouse circa 1930 the sides of the front of the building were angled 45 degrees to accommodate anticipated growth of the then-baby trees.

Shade, he decided, was more important than squaring off the corners of the building.

I can imagine him - standing outside. There was no architect involved. It was just a shop owner and a carpenter standing in front and talking about how to add enough space at a reasonable price.

I wonder if he knew then he was creating the angles that our customers have told us for years are “cute” and add “personality” for the shop.

And so it was then, in 1930, when Arthur made the call to leave the trees and build around them, that the shop, the trees and our family became business partners.

Unfortunately later this summer, this blog will be all that is left of this partnership.

The spruce is dying.

Its species has a normal age span of about 60 years and it has already given us 25 years beyond that.

And after consultation with two arborists, we have come to accept that the inevitable time is at hand and we must say our last goodbyes.

Although we are heartbroken, we are also thankful to have the time to give our stalwart friend a fitting farewell and plan to do that officially on Saturday, June 28 with a Good-bye Tree Event.

And we would love your help.

We plan to take a group picture in front of the spruce tree at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 28.

Anyone who has been a friend or neighbor to the shop is invited as are all of our current and past employees and their families.

Our customers and fans are also invited (don't worry we will use a wide lens!) Especially if you are a member of one of our families of customers who have been stopping by the shop for multiple generations.

And if you can't come to the party on the 28th, please come and take your picture with the tree anytime.

My goal is to help the Spruce to create one more indelibly good memory for all of us before he goes.

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 If you have any stories or photos to share of the shop, the building, the family, the tree or our chocolates, please share them with us at or on our Facebook page!

Friday, March 7, 2014

An experiment in communication - prices in 2014

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an open letter to our customers to help you understand some recent price changes in our product line. Some of our chocolates have slightly increased in price, some have been reduced, and many have remained the same as last year's prices. As all business do from time to time, we have made price adjustments in an effort to remain viable. We appreciate your continued support and if you have any questions about the following, feel free to contact third-generation owner, my father, Leif Anderson at 1-888-214-7914 or

Dear Friends and Fans,

During our business's 90+ year history, never has an owner reached out and explained a price change.
Price changes are a natural and necessary part of the retail world. In fact, you've undoubtedly experienced increases already this year in almost every product you buy from gas to milk.

However, with the help of my daughters, I've realized that the Internet - specifically our blog and Facebook - has taken our relationship with our customers to a new and more intimate level allowing us to communicate more frequently and in more detail than we ever have before. 

In this communication, I'd like to walk you through some of the highlights of our pending price changes.

First and foremost, we feel you need to know that the price we pay for chocolate has gone up more than twelve percent this year.

We do our best to keep our chocolate costs low, purchasing our bulk chocolate on the futures market and shopping for the lowest prices.

However, you may have noticed in the news lately that due to weather in the parts of the world where the cocoa bean is grown, compounded by a growing demand for chocolate amongst emerging markets like China, the cost of chocolate has risen significantly.
Despite the increased costs we are bearing, our largest price increase throughout our entire product line will only be about 6 percent. Many products won't see a change at all.

We have tried hard to find ways to cut costs and streamline to make that possible.
There are some parts of our business, however, we will not compromise on. We feel these aspects are important to who we are and what makes our chocolate great – however these elements do also affect the cost of our candy.

First, we will not alter the ingredients we use. Since our founding in 1919, we have been dedicated to delivering the highest quality product to you and we believe that depends on using the highest quality ingredients like our Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Grade A Extra Fancy Pineapple and whole Junior Mammoth Pecans.

We use the best nuts, the best cream, the best chocolate, the best flavorings you can get.

Also, because we feel it directly affects the quality of our candy, and because we believe in the power of small businesses to put people to work – we will continue to employ real humans to cook, dip in chocolate, package the products we sell. 

The average candy bar we sell was worked on by five different people before it made it to your mouth and we are proud of this.

We feel our employees deserve to be compensated for the skilled labor they provide our business and the excellent customer service we expect each one to provide to you. 

Where will you notice the price changes?
You will notice an increase reflected in some of our boxed chocolates and in most of our candy bar selection.

There are three candy bars – solid, toffee and oreos – which we opted to keep at 2013 prices.

And, to assure your satisfaction with the product you receive when you buy one of our bars, the Mint Chip, Meltaway Cream, Pudding, Coconut, Marzipan, and Buttercream bars are all undergoing makeovers which will make them a more comparable size to the rest of our bar selection.

In addition, you may also notice that the following fudges will all reduce in price by 20 cents this March - costing $2.75, which reflects 2011 prices. This list includes Old Tyme Fudge Bars, Pralines,
Cream Fudge Bars, and Meltaway Fudge Bars.

 Also, our half-pound containers of Old Tyme Fudge and Wrapping Caramels will be reduced by $2.00 per box- from $9.50 to $7.95.

What about Easter chocolates?
The good news is that to thank you for your loyalty during this change, most of our Easter line has been reduced in price over last year. This was possible for us because we have found ways to reduce cost labor and pass that on to you.

Our Solid Chocolate Rabbits have gone down an average of a $1.00 and the medium and large size bunny prices have been reduced by an average of $2.00 each!

We have also decided not to increase the price of our Cream Eggs or non-chocolate novelties, this spring.
Just like everyone of you we have also experienced significant increases in transportation and insurance costs and in utilities but I think this about covers the things that are most unique to our business. 
Thank you all for your support over the years and for taking the time to read this.
 If you appreciated this explanation or have further questions, please let me know.  I think that, for today, my experiment with using this tool to talk with all of you is finished.
Thanks again for your time, consideration and support. From my family to yours,
Take care,

Leif R. Anderson, third generation candymaker