Candy makers enjoy green Easter

Candy makers kick off the New Year making sure the Easter Bunny has all he needs to fill up baskets on Easter morning.

“We start up our Easter production in early January right after the Christmas break. Most stores want it on their shelves the day after Valentine’s Day,” said Sam Phillips, president of Gardners Candies, Tyrone.

McIntyre’s Candies, Altoona, begins production for its wholesale and private label sales right after Christmas.

“The people who resell it need it earlier in the curve,” said operator Don Ruggery Jr.

As for production of Easter candy for sale in McIntyre’s retail stores, that begins a little later – about six weeks before Easter.

Dutch Hill Chocolates, Altoona, doesn’t begin making Easter candy until after Valentine’s Day.

“That doesn’t give me a whole lot of time,” said owner Jerry Moore.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Easter Spending Survey, nine out of 10 consumers were expected to stock up on Easter candy, spending an average of $20.66 on chocolate, jelly beans and more, with total candy sales reaching $2.4 billion.

Easter is the busiest time of the year at Gardners.

“By far, Easter is our busiest holiday season. Between Easter and Christmas, that makes up about 70 to 80 percent of our sales for the year,” said Phillips, who indicated the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Easter are the three busiest days of the year in Gardners stores.

Easter candy sales rank in the top two or three holidays for Dutch Hill and McIntyre’s.

“I always say Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day are pretty comparable for me,” Moore said.

Easter follows Christmas and Valentine’s Day in sales at McIntyre’s, Ruggery said.

When the final totals are added up, the local candy makers hope to find they’ve had a good Easter season.

“I am right on target to do at least as well as last year and possibly more. I say my year runs from Christmas to Easter and we have had a pretty decent year,” Moore said.

An early Easter is

not always beneficial for

candy makers.

“My hope is our sales are level with last year. This year Easter is early, and that is not always the best for us in this business,” Ruggery said. “The shorter time between Valentine’s Day and Easter challenges our schedule.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.