HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. -- Nick Loucas, the owner of the famed Lucas Candies in Haverstraw, said there was never any pressure from his parents to take over the 119-year-old business -- he's the grand-nephew of the founder -- but that, growing up, he was always expected to work at the store.
He started around sixth grade and, along the years, learned every aspect of the business. "My father taught me about the production and manufacturing of the chocolate while my mother taught me presentation, packaging and customer service," said Loucas.
The Stony Point resident worked at the store all through high school and college and later, after graduating with a dual degree in engineering and business, became partners with his parents. When they retired, he took over.
To keep the store changing with the times, he's expanded its online presence and added new varieties of candy, featuring new and unique recipes with clever and edgy names. For example the company's PMS bar is peanut butter, milk chocolate and salted potato chips and does incredibly well. (It was featured on NBC's "Hoda and Kathie Lee.")
Loucas has also started to wholesale its candy bar lines so that they are available in retail outlets other than just the Haverstraw store.
As for what sells the most? Loucas said milk chocolate is number one though dark chocolate is increasing. The PMS bar does well as does the "gobs" (marshmallow, wrapped in caramel and dipped in milk or dark chocolate), chocolate covered Oreos. The company's various line of holiday items also continues to be strong.
Folks may be surprised to know Christmas is not their busiest holiday (though it's certainly popular): Easter is.
"Easter is a special time for our customers," said Loucas. "Because we have been around so long, many of our customers have been coming in for multiple generations. Parents who have been customers since they were kids are now bringing their children to our store so to them, it's not Easter without Lucas Candies."
And, like its generations of clientele so, too are there generations of Loucas family members working behind the counter and in the office. Loucas's brother works with him as does his 16-year-old son, Alex. "He is learning the business like I did when I was his age," said Loucas.
Lucas Candies is at 6 Main St., Haverstraw, (845) 947-1220, www.lucascandies.com/ .
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