I walked into the Colonial Candy Shoppe on High Street in Clintonville during a sugar fast (don’t ask). Bad idea, because the sumptuous chocolate delights displayed were mighty tempting. Thanks to the owner John Durst, a lifelong resident of Clintonville, I was severely tested. “You can’t come in here without sampling the chocolates,” Durst said. My sugar fast quickly turned into a sugar rush.
Colonial Candy has been around for five decades, having moved to its current location in 2001. Now owned by John, his wife Stacey, and their 16-year- old son Tanner, Colonial has been more of a local stewardship than an ownership. (The Dursts are the shop’s fourth owners, after purchasing it in 2015.)
While love of candy brought the Dursts to Colonial, it’s just part of their story. So, how exactly does a professor at Ohio Wesleyan (John), an employee of Battelle (Stacey), and a high school student (Tanner), who have no experience in chocolate and candy other than eating it, get into owning a candy store?
“We would shop here at the Saturday morning farmer’s market, and we’d come in here [to Colonial Candy],” Durst said. “One day we came in to get some chocolate and we saw this yer saying the store was for sale. We laid the flyer down in our house for two months and never thought about it. Until one day we wondered what she wanted. We asked. The price was right, and we bought it.”
Even though the Dursts have day jobs (and school), they all pitch in to keep things running. And in the summer, when they add ice cream to the menu, they employ local high school and college students. “We bought the store in part because my wife and I worked through high school and we wanted our son to do the same,” Durst said. “We also wanted to do something in the community and for the community since it has done so much for us.”
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Stability is what Colonial Candy is all about. And nothing is more solid than the relationship Colonial shares with Haggy’s, the Canton- based candy and chocolate manufacturer and retailer that’s been around since 1923. It’s a name with cache among chocolate lovers, and Durst sees them as the key to people coming back for more. “I don’t think they have changed [what they make] since they first started,” he said. “We wouldn’t have bought the business without them being a part of this.”
Durst doesn’t proclaim to be a chocolate expert like Willy Wonka, but he thinks the chocolate just “hits the right notes.” In January the shop transitions from peppermint season into selling more traditional flavors— though if you can sample the French Mint, a pink-colored dark chocolate peppermint, it’s delicious any time of year. Chocolate-covered peanuts or pecans and standard milk chocolate caramel are always popular go-tos.
There’s hard candy lining the side of the store, with the signature Haggy’s wrapped chocolate candies prominently displayed straight ahead as you walk in. The Durst family also supports local Clintonville authors by displaying their books for customers to purchase when available.
Colonial Candy’s website states: We want to be a place where you can enjoy candy and be welcomed as a friend. A place that evokes memories and creates new ones. And we want to be a strong advocate for Clintonville. This is our home.
Feeling welcomed, I indulged as Durst had encouraged. All told, I broke my sugar fast with six pieces of delicious chocolate: two milk chocolate caramels, a chocolate-covered pecan, two coconut cream chocolates and one brownie cream chocolate. And I’ll be honest—it was pretty sweet.
Colonial Candy is located at 3519 N High St. in Clintonville
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