Niles shop celebrates National Candy Day

Published 9:56 am Thursday, November 4, 2021

NILES — Thursday is National Candy Day, much to the delight of children with bags of Halloween candy and to the chagrin of dentists everywhere.

Veni’s Sweets Shop, 228 E. Main, has been satisfying local sweet tooths for more than 100 years with no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Owner Linda Skwarcan said the shop is coming off a productive Halloween season.

“Halloween is also very big for apple season,” she said. “We were very busy with apples, candy and chocolates.”

Veni’s received a big boost thanks to the Downtown Trick-Or-Treat event last Saturday.

“We saw hundreds of people here,” she said. “We wish the weather had been a little bit better, but it could have been a lot worse.”

With Halloween and apples in the rear-view mirror, the shop has been hard at work preparing for the holiday season. According to Skwarcan, the shop has four different sizes of chocolate turkeys available leading up to Thanksgiving and will be producing 18 different flavors of handmade candy canes and other holiday-themed items, including a new advent calendar.

“We’re working on getting all of our Christmas stuff out,” Skwarcan said. “We have to start early like this because Christmas is the biggest season.”

For a sweets business like Veni’s, the transition to a new holiday season is an extensive one.

“All of the confections change,” Skwarcan said. “We go from pumpkins to turkeys to Santas, We have molded Santas in a half dozen sizes. We have Christmas Oreos, Christmas pretzel rods, rice crispy Christmas trees, peanut butter Santas, peanut butter Christmas trees, all sorts of stuff that we do only for Christmas.”

The pandemic’s arms of influence have extended all the way to the candy and chocolate industries. While managing the transition into the holiday season, Skwarcan has also had to contend with delays in the supply chain.

“Some of the things that we typically have on hand have been quite a challenge to get,” she said. “I’m ordering from two different distributors and can’t get them from either distributor.”

According to Skwarcan, the chocolate industry is experiencing a chocolate shortage that started right after last Christmas.

“We’re hoarding chocolate,” she joked.

The shortage has changed how Skwarcan orders and stocks some of the store’s raw goods.

“We can’t run out,” she said. “As soon as we found out there were issues last December, we tried to plan in advance for if in six months we can’t get it. … If we’re out of sour gummy bears, that’s not a crisis and there’s nothing I can do,” she said. “If we run out of chocolate to make product, that’s a crisis. We have been very proactive in making sure that doesn’t happen.”

Skwarcan said the shop currently has roughly 10 times the amount of chocolate on hand that she normally would.

“Normally, we order what we need because the chocolate comes in 50-pound cases and we have to unload the stock,” she said. “It’s hard, so that’s how we used to do it. We can always check out what we need, blend our own mix and go on from there. Once we realized that some of the supplies were limited, we started ordering thousands of pounds of chocolate, because we can’t run out.”

While managing a sweets shop amid a pandemic has had its challenges, Skwarcan is happy to still be able to provide the gift of sweets to customers and looks forward to what’s next.

“I hope we have a really good season,” she said. “Based on the year, I’m crossing my fingers and thinking we will but also things change. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. But we’re looking forward and planning for a good Christmas season.”