Sweet Transition: New Generation Takes Over Iconic Chatham Candy Manor

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Business

David Veach and Naomi Turner, left, are selling the iconic Chatham Candy Manor on Main Street to Paige and Robbie Carroll. Members of Carroll's family have worked at the chocolate shop for decades, and he put himself through college working there. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – For more than 60 years, the Chatham Candy Manor has been an anchor on the east end of Main Street, a sweet spot that keeps the iconic chocolate shop bustling year-round.

For that entire time, the business has been owned and operated by the same family. Now new owners are taking over, but the shop will remain within the family – the Candy Manor family.

Owners Naomi Turner and David Veach announced this week that Robbie and Paige Carroll will be taking over the business, known for its hand-dipped chocolates and home-made specialty confections. The Carroll family has a long history with the Candy Manor. Robbie's mother, Susan, has been a mainstay at the shop for decades, and he put himself through college working at there. Both his siblings, Jesse and Emily, also worked at the store.

“We're so proud and excited to have this family, these family members, now take over this business,” Turner said. During a transition period, Turner and Veach will continue to be involved, acting as consultants “along with dipping chocolate and making fudge,” she said.

The Carrolls were the right people at the right time, Turner said. They have a vision for the business, “and their understanding of the history and of what makes the Candy Manor work is extraordinary. And that's what's important.”

“It's a big deal,” said Susan Carroll, who is excited that the store will remain in the Candy Manor “family” as well as her own family.

The Candy Manor was started by Turner's mother, whose name was also Naomi, in 1955. She had previously run candy stores in Hyannis, Provincetown and other locations, and actually had two locations in Chatham: a penny candy store where the Cook's Nook shop is currently located, and the main store at 484 Main St. Turner took over the main store in 1970, even though at the time the penny candy store was busier because it was located near the Chatham Theater.

“This was the sleepy side of downtown,” she said of the current location. That changed fairly quickly thanks to the Chatham Squire and other businesses, and now that end of downtown is often the busiest (though the west end has come back thanks to the opening of the Chatham Orpheum Theater, which Turner played a key role in establishing).

Not long after Turner took over the Candy Manor, Susan Carroll began working at the Main Street shop, starting as a “rainy day girl” who worked during rainy days in the summer.

“It was just Susan and I for quite some time,” Turner said. Kim Marsh, who, along with Carroll, has run the day-to-day operation in recent years, began working at the store in 1983. Both will continue to work at the shop.

“Our dream has always been for our employees or our family to bring this business along,” Turner said. “Our dream has never been to find somebody with a lot of money to sell this business to who has no clue what they're doing. It's a very unique and complex and iconic business and we want it to carry on in just that way. So we feel like we have the perfect people.”

Robbie Carroll graduated from Chatham High School in 2005 and from Bentley University in 2009 with a degree in finance. He and Paige met at Bentley and moved to Oakland, where he worked in finance and she worked in the nonprofit sector. A few years later they came back east and were working in similar jobs in Boston when they started talking with Turner and Veach about buying the Candy Manor.

“It felt like the right time to explore this possibility,” Paige said. Robbie moved back to the Cape and began working at the store in June 2017, and Paige followed last summer after finishing up her work. This month they take over the day-to-day management of the business.

“It's a process of transition,” he commented.

The Candy Manor has always been an integral part of the community, contributing to many events and nonprofit groups as well as the town's annual Easter egg hunt, something the Carrolls intend to continue. It was that tight connection that drew them in, along with the many long-time employees whom they've gotten to know and sought input from. Those aspects of the business won't change.

“That's really important to us,” said Paige.

While they won't be changing the things that make the Candy Manor so special to so many people – the hand-dipped chocolates created in the small kitchen at the rear of the store, the fudge vats in the front window – they plan to use technology to further its reach. Last year the store launched a new website, and internet and corporate sales have been a growing part of the business in recent years.

Susan Carroll will become the shop's production manager, working in a team with the kitchen and storefront managers.

“It's very exciting because it's a role that hasn't been spelled out before,” she said. Although she's done just about every job in the business, from making chocolates to running the retail operation, she's mostly had a supervisory role. She'll be learning more abut packaging and other production details in her new role. Marsh will continue as kitchen manager, while Andrew Wiggin will manage the storefront. Tweaking the organization, added Paige, puts them in a good position to grow the businesses.

Turner and Veach are confident that under the new owners, the business will retain the connection to the community, its customers and staff that has made it so successful.

“It's hard to describe how good it feels to know that the Candy Manor is going to be in good hands,” said Veach.