Vermont Confectionery has new location, new owner

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BENNINGTON — A longtime Bennington County candy business has moved to a new downtown location, under new ownership.

Vermont Confectionery, which has been in business at Colgate Park on Route 9 in the west end of Bennington since 1995, has relocated to 516 Main St. The store is scheduled to open this morning at 10.

Ryan and Heather Hassett recently bought the business from its longtime owners, George and Jill McCain, for an undisclosed amount. The Hassetts own the 516 Main St. space, which was the former home of their country store and cafe, Bringing You Vermont, and was recently vacated by the DiBuono Ravioli Company.

"As far as having the business go on, we're very pleased," Jill McCain said Friday.

She and her husband said two factors drove their decision to sell: Their wish to retire, and the sharp drop-off in business that began with the opening of Route 279, better known as the Bennington Bypass. One year ago, Vermont Confectionery closed its retail store, selling its products by mail order and wholesale exclusively.

With the McCains intending to retire, "I didn't want to see a longtime business go by the wayside," Ryan Hassett said.

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He said Vermont Confectionery will focus on chocolates and candies, sold by the pound. The store will discontinue some of its other product lines, like ice cream, cheese and maple syrup, because they're available at other stores in the downtown. "I always push people to other businesses," he said. "I think we all have to work together."

Although the downtown is already home to a candy store, the Village Chocolate Shoppe at 471 Main St., Hassett said he expects the two businesses to be complementary, rather than head-to-head competitors. For instance, he said, Village Chocolate offers gelato; Vermont Confectionery will not.

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"I'm not trying to do anything against them," Hassett said. "We're going to have things that they don't carry, and they're going to have things that we don't carry."

Vermont Confectionery's signature specialties will continue, such as its Vermonster, "a monstrous delicacy treat made with chocolate, caramel and nuts," and its "Cow Plop," a chocolate-covered peanut patty which is often bought as a novelty gift. Those and other candies have been carried by Bringing You Vermont.

Two new employees have been hired for Vermont Confectionery, Hassett said. He said the new positions should help insulate all of his employees from seasonal ups and downs, because hours cut from a schedule for one location might be able to be made up at another location. In addition to Bringing You Vermont, the Hassetts also own the Bennington Pizza House, which they bought in March 2018.

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The McCains said they will be putting in some part-time hours at the new location, particularly in the beginning, and expressed a hope that their longtime customers will be able to find them in their new spot. "We have some very loyal customers, wonderful customers," Jill McCain said.

When the McCains purchased Vermont Confectionery in 1993, it was located on Route 7A in Shaftsbury, near the Iron Kettle Motel. They moved the business to Colgate Park on Route 9 in Bennington two years later.

Jill McCain noted that, at Colgate Park, customers would always arrive by car. "I think that that will take some getting used to, the different dynamics of being in a downtown," she said.

Vermont Confectionery is the second business to open in the downtown in the past few weeks. The Avocado Pit, serving tacos and burritos, opened in early November in the South Street location formerly occupied by Cilantro.

Reach David LaChance at dlachance@benningtonbanner.com, or 802-447-7567, ext. 115.


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