Monday, February 10, 2003

Old-fashioned candy maker loves holiday

Valentine's Day is busiest time of year

By Scott Underwood
The Star Press

MUNCIE, Ind. - With the biggest sales day of the year approaching fast, the folks at Lowery's Candies cook, dip, roll, wrap and package with a special sense of purpose.

"We like Valentine's Day," said manager Vicki Brown Good, standing near a display counter.

"We get that competitive sense," she said. "How quickly can we fill this order before we get on to the next one?"

Actually, the day before Valentine's is Lowery's busiest of the year.

The line of customers - mostly men - fills up the front of the shop and spills out the door into the parking lot, confirming the consensus among Lowery's 20-some employees - mostly women. Men procrastinate.

"The day after Valentine's is busy, too," Good said. "Men who forgot come slithering in."

All told, Lowery's generally sells about 8,000 pounds of candy around Valentine's Day. But it's not as if the workers sit around the rest of the year, twiddling their thumbs like slacking Oompa-Loompas.

The company's reputation as an old-fashioned candy maker helps it sell about 60,000 pounds of goodies during its nine-month season of operation. Lowery's closes for three months every year after Mother's Day.

Most of the women have worked at Lowery's for more than a decade, testifying to the stability of the company and the delicious rewards of the job.

"We eat the candy all the time," said Alice Bartle, a 20-year employee. "Maybe I shouldn't say that around the boss."

The candies are packed into stock boxes and stored on labeled shelves by kind - pecan bark, raspberry bonbons, Tiger Paws, cherry cordials, Dark Secret and dozens of other tempting varieties.

The women behind the display counter take candy from the stock boxes to fill display boxes, sometimes to custom order.

Judie Henderson, who works in shipping and mailing, has been part of the Lowery's team for three decades. "I like chocolate, and the people I work with are family," she said succinctly, before turning her attention back to preparations for the Valentine's Day rush.

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