The Candy Lady & Kids - Our Story
Our story really begins at the Rainbow Inn Café in Glen Allan, Mississippi. The owners of the Rainbow Inn, my parents – Walter and Phoebe – sold a variety of candies from this café that doubled as a store/restaurant by day and a juke joint by night. Candy bars - Baby Ruth’s, Payday’s, and Butterfinger’s – were favorites with the adult purchasers. Kids loved the cheap candies such as the Coconut Long Boys, Bit-O-Honey, Mary Jane’s, Peanut Butter Logs and assorted Multi-Colored Peppermint Sticks. Affordable, many of these candies were sold two for a nickel. Those were the days!
The huge two tiered glass candy case trimmed in mahogany wood that visibly sat on the café’s front counter in the early 1960’s never left my memory.
Fast forwarding some twenty years later, Vernalee moved her entrepreneurial dream of owning a candy store from Mississippi to Ohio opening a concession in 1991 at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Called London Chocolatier, (a division of Harry London/Fannie May Chocolates), the full service 750 square feet store graced the corner of Concourse C in the Main Airport Lobby area.
Becoming universally known throughout the Greater Cleveland area as The Candy Lady, Lee changed the name and logo to reflect her personal individuality and branding. London Chocolatier became known as The Candy Lady. Several new store openings followed with locations in Progressive Field and Rocket Mortgage Field House where products were featured on customized kiosks and concession stores. Cotton candy, unicorn pops, popcorn, nuts, and other kid favorites were added to the roundup.
The Candy Lady did not stop there! It expanded its offerings by finding a niche catering to large groups which included banquets, conventions, and special events. Decorative and themed two and four piece customized boxes of assorted gourmet chocolates were popularly included.
Simultaneously formed was a separate and distinct Corporate Gift Division. Corporate Logos in chocolate and chocolate business card were yummy ideas that companies used to further their marketing and promotional messaging. Corporate gifting with the company’s logo/brand was a huge profitable hit. Notable Local and national corporations became clients.
Being in sports venues, The Candy Lady availed itself of the distinct opportunity to provide other unique product offerings. One of the most successful ventures was with the Cleveland Indians outfielder, David Justice. With David Justice as the pitchman, the David Justice Candy Bar instantly became a local, regional, and national best seller.
A family business, Lee alongside her two children, David (Scooter) and Phoebe, are major players in the business as partners, employees, and creators of innovative products. Scooter was the brainchild behind the David Justice Candy Bar; while Phoebe was the creator of a Rock Hall Chocolate CD that became a licensed product sold at the one and only Cleveland Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. With innovative creative minded children who provided successful business models and product ideas, The Candy Lady grew and became The Candy Lady & Kids (TCLK).
With approximately thirty solid years in the retail and gourmet chocolate/candy product industry, the Lee Family through The Candy Lady & Kids offer not only a quality blend of gourmet chocolates/candy flavors/nuts/popcorn/gifts that could satisfy most sweet pallets, but have done so with the highest degree of customized/individual customer service. With a genius stroke of conception by Phoebe, a party room and craft center where kids can have birthday parties as they make lasting memories with porcelain and other crafty items was a “sweet” addition to our existing business.
As a family, the Lee’s – Verna, Scooter, and Phoebe – with the 2019 opening of TCLK in Shaker Heights, Ohio have built an impressive following of customers and corporate clients who have been patrons of The Candy Lady & Kids for years.