CRYSTAL LAKE – Anderson's Candy Shop is expanding its gourmet chocolate business as a fourth generation of candy lovers brings fresh ideas to the nearly 100-year-old family-owned company.
The Anderson family opened a new store Saturday at 218 W. Main St. in Barrington. The venture is a partnership with the Barrington Area Historical Society and the Barrington History Museum. The candy shop uses a small portion of one of the society's homes and also serves as the point of purchase for the museum's gift shop.
Over the decades, the family has tried to grow several times. Some attempts were successful, others never got off the ground.
But when Susanne Anderson, 25, and Katie Anderson-Tedder, 27, joined the business last year, the family decided it was time to try again, said Leif Anderson, their father and third-generation company owner.
"It's still a very tough economy – we hope we're seeing greener things ahead," he said.
Though Barrington has been a strong base of support for the company, having a store there will attract new customers from throughout the region.
"We hope it opens the door to a whole lot of new people," Leif Anderson said.
Both daughters brought energy and innovative thinking to the project, their father said. Without them, it wouldn't have been possible to expand.
Leif Anderson and his brother, Lars, took over the business in the late 1980s from their father, Raynold. Their grandfather, Arthur, started the business in 1919 in Chicago before moving it to Richmond in 1926.
The brothers sought new markets. They opened a store in Crystal Lake in the late 1990s, but after both went through divorces, they sold off the branch store to focus on family and their store in Richmond.
In 2004, with Fannie May in bankruptcy, the family again considered opening a new store, this time in downtown Chicago. But the deal eventually fell apart after months of work, Leif Anderson said.
They tried once more in 2007, making plans to be an anchor tenant in a grandly-envisioned development project in Spring Grove that was to include a hotel and convention center along with a theater and other entertainment venues. Those plans collapsed when the economy tanked.
The Andersons hosted a grand opening for the Barrington store Saturday. Its success is critical to the future of the family business.
"We felt expansion needed to happen for the business to continue for future generations," said Katie Anderson-Tedder, a former Northwest Herald reporter who put her newspaper career on hold last year to work full-time for her father. "The Richmond store doesn't draw enough traffic to sustain the business."
Anderson's Richmond store will be the flagship location and remain the company's candy-making headquarters. The family has been making candy for several months to make sure there will be enough to supply both stores, Anderson-Tedder said.
The Barrington store offers all of the boxed candy assortments and candy bars available in Richmond, but custom-packed boxes and special orders need to be placed in advance.
In addition to the new store, Anderson-Tedder and her sister want to do more to give back to communities throughout the region. For years, the company has supported charity groups, but the family has bigger plans going forward.
This year, they introduced the Give Back Box, a $14.95 assortment of handmade chocolates. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds of each box sold will be donated to Family Health Partnership Clinic in Woodstock. The clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides medical care for McHenry County's uninsured.
The mission of the clinic is dear to the family. Ruth Danner-Anderson, the mother of Katie and Susanne, died in 2009 after battling breast cancer for several years – at times without the benefit of insurance coverage. Had Ruth Danner-Anderson recieved treatment through an organization such as the Family Health Partnership Clinic, she could have beaten the cancer, Susanne Anderson said.
"It was our goal to change the way the business is run and be more involved in the community," she said. "For us, the Give Back Box is very personal."
Anderson's Candy Shop
What: A fourth-generation gourmet chocolate business
Where 10301 N Main St., Richmond, with a new location at 218 W. Main St., Barrington
Information: Call 888-214-7614, or visit www.andersonscandyshop.com