I'm so bummed. We have bought many things from Granny's Chocolate in the past. I'm sad to see them close.
Longtime Gilbert candy shop closes
by Katherine Greene - Jul. 23, 2009 09:19 AM
The Arizona Republic
The place where Gilbert bought its sweets has gone sour in the bad economy.
Granny's Chocolate Creations, which for 20 years sold confections from its store near McQueen and Guadalupe roads, shut down indefinitely last month under pressure from the economy and its owners' health problems, said Emily Payne, who for the last 17 years managed the commercial center where they kept shop.
Lynn Redding, who owned the shop with his wife Merry, had been a real estate developer in the 1980s and quit that career in the last major housing bust. He invested $125,000 in the business, where six grandmothers worked furiously to meet the demand for unique chocolate candies.
When it first opened in mid-1989, less than 2 percent of the Redding's business came from retail sales. They did wholesale orders for businesses across the Southwest and made special chocolates for companies and events, including Arizona State University and Dillard's. They also produced chocolate-covered pretzels for some Starbucks franchises.
The town of Gilbert was a customer, said Dan Henderson, the town's economic development manager. His department gave Granny's gift baskets to companies that chose to locate in town, he said. Henderson was a frequent customer in his personal life, too, he said. During his wife's recent pregnancy, he often stopped in to get chocolates to bring home to her.
"In all honesty, it wasn't a hard sell," he said. "I would usually get some for myself, too."
The economic development department is in charge of attracting and retaining businesses in Gilbert. Henderson said he worked intensively with the Reddings to try and keep their business open in town.
They were grooming their son, Colin, to take over the business, but he chose to take a technology-related career instead, Henderson said.
After their son made his decision, "they were basically going to bow out," he said.
The Reddings had been working to shrink the amount of space they used for the retail store, but decided to just throw in the towel when Lynn's health began to deteriorate, Payne said.
"They just finally got to the point where they just couldn't see their way to do that," she said. "With the health issues going on and everything, they just needed to step back and regroup, as it were, and get their bearings again."
They took an "extended vacation," Payne said, taking time to travel and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with their family.
Since they left, ex-Granny's customers have been stopping by Payne's office daily looking for their favorite candy, she said.
"They're practically demanding to know where they went," Payne said, laughing. "They say, 'We can't function without their chocolate.'"
The Reddings may reopen the business "on a smaller scale" when they return from vacation, she said.
"They had the best chocolate in the world, I swear to goodness. And hopefully they will again," she said.
Granny's Web site is still fully functional and customers can still place orders - although it's unclear who would fill those orders. The company's phone goes unanswered and the voice mailbox is full. An e-mail to Colin Redding returned no response, and the store is vacant.
A message left on the Redding's answering machine was not returned.