---- — Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Larry Marano of Candyland and The Windy Hill Candle Factory, just over the Chenango County border, in Harpursville.
How long have you lived in the area?
Tell me about your business:
We hand-pour jar candles, votives, tapers and pillars in both scented and unscented. We also carry specialty candles.
We travel the country looking for unique and retro candy items to bring back to Candyland, where we sell the region's largest variety of candies.
Describe a typical day in your business:
We never know what to expect. There is always packing new candy items for the store and making candles when we are not helping to take care of our customers.
How did you get started in this line of work?
After I was disabled in a car wreck, I started making candles as a hobby. Eventually this led into the business. We opened a gift-shop addition, but the recession killed it. Several years ago, we thought we would give another specialty business a try, and Candyland began from there.
Where do you see this business in five years?
Bigger and better! Hopefully the recession will end and business will be back to normal.
Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:
Every time we help out a local youth group with fundraising, it is special. In Candyland, the memorable moments add up into hundreds. Being able to tell people "Yes, we do have ... " and watching them smile in disbelief is memorable.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
Bringing a smile to people that come in without one.
The most enjoyable?
Attending the International Candy Show (it's where Renee and I got married). It is also enjoyable when we are developing new candle fragrances.
How do you define success for your business?
Seeing all the smiles and hearing "oh my god" when a new customer enters Candyland. Success for us is our close-to-100% customer satisfaction.
What are some advantages and drawbacks of doing business in this area?
We are a unique business unlike anything else around here. Local customers enjoy bringing in family from out of town because we are an attraction, entertainment and a destination point. The drawbacks are the flooding in this region, and the bad economy.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
We carry the candy that no one else carries. We care about what we make and test everything we sell before we offer the selection to customers.
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