OSWEGO, NY – Somehow, chocolate has the captivating ability to make everyone happy. That’s why Amy Lear, owner of Man in the Moon Candies in Oswego, loves her business.
“Making people happy,” she feels is the best part of her job. “It’s a fun business and it’s a happy business. Chocolate makes people happy. That beats a real job any day of the week.”
Lear would know, as she had worked for 20 years as a NYS certified optician before leaving behind her full-time job to be completely devoted to owning her candy business.
She began her work in the candy business while still working full-time, making candy and selling it at craft shows and filling orders for people.
In 2006, she opened a booth at the Oswego Farmers’ Market for the summer which allowed more people to get a taste of her handmade goodies.
Then, in February of 2007, Lear opened her first retail location claiming 450 square feet of Canal Commons where she was purely retail and continued to make the candy in the kitchen of her home.
About a year and a half later, in October of 2008, Lear moved her business to its current location at 203 W. First St., in Oswego, still in Canal Commons.
“We have street frontage and more space. We were able to do some production here and still continue with some in the kitchen but within a couple years we were able to expand. Now we do all of our production right here,” said Lear.
All of their production stems from years and years of family candy making prowess handed down.
Lear’s family has been in the candy business since the 1930s.
Ray and Gladys, Lear’s grandparents, owned a candy business in 1935 selling “Man in the Moon” hard suckers made with a hand press mold making three suckers at a time.
Unable to obtain more automated equipment, Ray and Gladys were forced to close their business. Until ten years later, in 1946, when they were able to open and successfully operate their candy business. However, no longer making “Man in the Moon” suckers.
“As a tribute to my grandparents, I have named my business Man in the Moon Candies. And, like them, I have a dream of making quality candy for a new generation,” quoted Lear on her business card and website.
Her grandparents’ business was open until 1973; but much like her grandparents, Lear’s father also had a part-time candy business from 1984-1994.
It was during this time Lear learned the majority of the candy making process alongside her father.
Today, Man in the Moon Candies employs anywhere from five to nine people, depending on the season. Most of the employees are trained in handmade candy making.
“A lot of the recipes are the same ones that my grandparents used more than 60 years ago. Candy making is such a nice combination of science and art,” said Lear.
With all the production of their own, along with some outside contributors, Man in the Moon Candies is an old-fashioned full-service candy store.
“We have a little bit of everything,” said Lear. “From the penny candy type, although they’re not a penny anymore, to specialty chocolate truffles, fudge, sponge candy, peanut butter dreams and chocolate dipped everything; Oreos, Twinkies, potato chips – just to name some.”
With such a variety, it’s hard for Lear to pinpoint a customer favorite.
“The sponge candy, truffles, and peanut butter cups and dreams are always a big hit. And our peanut brittle during the holidays is a top seller,” said Lear.
That’s not all. Man in the Moon Candies has a candy or chocolate for every occasion.
They offer personalized and custom made chocolates, wedding and party favors and dessert trays.
They even have chocolate bars exclaiming “Happy Birthday,” “Congratulations,” “Best Wishes” and many others, birthday wine glasses and bags filled with chocolate, each chocolate letter of the alphabet and numerous different molds providing fun shapes such as castles, crowns, dinosaurs and even Fort Ontario themed chocolates along with many more.
One of the newer and slightly different products they offer is specialty chocolates made in the shape of gems, rings and pendants.
While some of these products are sold in the store, Lear has opened a separate business at PromiseMeChocolate.com, in which these high end chocolates are sold and shipped all over the United States.
“They make great wedding favors or work well for themed events. Jewelry stores like to use them for their best customers, as gifts or at events. We’ve done business with Ivanka Trump Jewelry and Neiman Marcus and been featured in bridal magazines like Martha Stewart Weddings,” said Lear.
The rings and gems can come in almost any color and different flavors.
“This has been a nice addition to Man in the Moon Candies. It’s primarily an online presence but it gives us a different angle. We can do hometown chocolates, but we also do really high end, unique stuff,” said Lear.
For both the downtown location and the online company, Lear offers shared credit for her success to family support.
“Every person has strengths and weaknesses. How to be successful is to know your weaknesses and hire good employees to compensate that or surround yourself with supportive people to do that,” said Lear.
She has been able to do this with the help of her employees and her sisters.
Each of her sisters has a unique skillset that they are able to bring forth and contribute to the business.
“I’ve been very fortunate for my large family, they are all very supportive. They each have their own unique talents and skills,” Lear added.
Looking to the future, expansion is always an option for Man in the Moon Candies.
“There’s always a need for more space, bigger equipment. But that can’t happen here, there’s only so much expansion available here,” said Lear.
But for now, “I enjoy being downtown” she added. “When I was a kid, downtown was so full and vibrant with lots of shopping opportunities. We are experiencing a resurgence of our downtown and I like being a part of that.”
For now, Lear plans to continue her focus on making people happy with her candy.
“I love finding just the right thing for somebody,” said Lear.
So, if you’re looking to satisfy that sweet tooth, stop to Man in the Moon Candies and let Lear and her employees find the perfect candy fit for you.
Check out ManintheMoonCandies.com for hours and information.