By Doug Fraser Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Susan Carroll was one of the kids hired in her teens at the "Chatham Candy Manor" and worked there for 45 years. This winter, Carroll's son Robbie and his wife, Paige Piper, took over as the new owners of a business that has helped anchor Main Street in the minds of visitors and locals for 65 years.
In the black-and-white photo, candy store owner Naomi Louise Turner is surrounded by beaming children brandishing jumbo rainbow swirl lollipops.
With a stylish crown cap pushed back on her head, exposing sweeping bangs, an open, intelligent face and that big smile, it would have been hard to believe that Turner and her daughter spent their summer nights sleeping in their yellow 1957 DeSoto station wagon behind the Chatham Candy Manor.
Sometimes they went to a campground, and on inclement or cold nights, the elder Turner slept in the candy shop kitchen, and her daughter in the bathroom.
"Today, we would have been considered homeless, but we just thought we were having fun," said Naomi Marie Turner.
Most of the year, they lived in upstate New York, but summer found them in Chatham.
"My mom and I would show up July 1, set up a table, make fudge and we'd be out of here the day before Labor Day," Turner, now 71, recalled. If they made enough money in the first four weeks, they'd rent a house for the remainder of the summer.
Her father wasn't in the picture, so it was mother and daughter, running the shop, hiring locals and summer kids to help.
"Because I was family, I was on call 24/7," Turner recalled. "Up-and-at-em, front and center. I was 7. It was crazy."
Susan Carroll was one of those kids hired in her teens and has worked at the Candy Manor for over 45 years. This winter, Carroll's son Robbie and his wife, Paige Piper, took over as the new owners of a business that has helped anchor Main Street in the minds of visitors and locals for 65 years.
"So many people come into town and say, 'My first stop is The Candy Manor and the (Chatham) Squire.' They both are iconic," Turner said.
When contemplating a sale, Turner and husband David Veach worried about selling to a stranger. She was instrumental in the campaign to restore the Orpheum Theater downtown, to retain that historic and small town charm on Main Street, and would have moved out of town, she said, and never come back, if they botched the handover of their store to new owners, and the shop somehow foundered.
"I'm so happy (about selling to Carroll and Piper). This is the best possible resolution because it's good for everybody," Turner said.
"So, no pressure?" Robbie Carroll quipped. He and Piper were business majors together at Bentley University and had worked with startups in Boston after graduation. When they decided to buy the Candy Manor, where Carroll had worked growing up in Chatham, the couple moved to the Cape.
"We knew we wanted to be a part of a small community, and running a small business appealed to us," Piper said.
The formula for success is evident to the new owners.
"You keep everything the same," Robbie Carroll said. Fortunately, they have many long-term employees and "the recipes are gold, so you can't mess them up," Carroll said.
Turner's mother was an entrepreneur who had candy stores in small towns along the East Coast. She had a 20-year lease on the Chatham property that started at $800 annually in 1955, increasing by $100 a year.
When she turned 25, Turner decided her future was in Chatham, and she was able to buy the Candy Manor building in the late 1980s. The business began to grow, stretching out beyond Labor Day into the "candy holidays" -- Christmas, Valentine's Day, and the candy colossus, Easter. Mail orders, and then the internet, grew the business to point where it was time to up their game.
"My mother was very charismatic, gracious, lovely. She entertained customers, and it was all a wonderful atmosphere," Turner said, but she and Susan Carroll quickly realized the candy making she and her mother had relied on to get through summer wasn't going to cut it for a year-round business.
"We've come very, very far in terms of continuity of product, standards of production," Turner said. Now, as Turner steps away from the business that has been in her family for 65 of her 71 years, she said she could shed tears, but for one thing.
"It does feel good to know that it's in good hands and to know that it will continue to be a part of the community," she said.