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Local candy shops battle COVID-19 during Easter holiday, one of their busiest times of year

Any other year, candy shops would be full of customers buying product for family members and more. Now, curbside pickup and delivery serve as main ways of sales.

LANCASTER, Pa. — Easter serves as one of the busiest time of the year for local candy shops--usually.

"We haven't even done one-quarter the amount of business we usually do. Not even close," Georgie Lou's Retro Candy owner Stephanie Patterson Gilbert said.

You can find Georgie Lou's Retro Candy in Carlisle, Cumberland County.

Over in Lancaster County, Evans Candy and Miesse Candies are feeling the hurt, too.

"Easter week alone counts for about one-eighth of our yearly income," Steve Evans, owner of Evans Candy said.

Miesse has been locked down for three weeks, only allowing shipping and curbside pickups.

"The most important thing to Tracy and I is everyone stays as safe as they can. If that means we don't have our doors open for another month-and-a-half, that's how it'll have to be," Bob Artus, owner of Miesse Candies with wife, Tracy, said.

However, all businesses are trying to find ways to mitigate the damage, and some are finding success.

Georgie Lou's is offering delivery a couple of days a week in a five-mile radius from the shop in Downtown Carlisle. You can also order online on their website.

Evans Candy is taking curbside to a new level as their phones still ring off the hook.

"We call back on our personal cell phones and take their order, walk them through the store. Basically become personal shoppers," Evans said. "It's enjoyable. You get time to chat with your customers and find out their favorites."

On top of re-inventing their customer service, they're constantly sanitizing anything and everything to best keep things clean and safe for everyone, Evans said. You can also order from their website.

On top of delivering to certain zip codes in Lancaster County, Miesse Candies is doing curbside pickup as well. If you're uncomfortable using your credit card online, you can even call them and place your order.

Credit: WPMT FOX43, Miesse Candies
Curbside pickup available at Miesse Candies.

"Anybody who wants can pickup here. We fill it, call them back and let them know their order is ready. We'll bring the order out to them," Bob Artus said.

Credit: WPMT FOX43
Bob Artus delivers curbside pickup with gloves on.

And the couple has been busy with a lower-than-usual staff. Piles upon piles of orders come in before Easter.

"We literally come in first thing in the morning, pack orders all day and go home," Bob Artus said. "We'll probably finally rest on Sunday."

Still, while staying busy, it's hard to ignore the impact COVID-19 is having on the shops, even be simply the lack of interaction with their customers. The Artuses are used to customers visiting, picking out their Easter baskets for their families. The owner of Georgie Lou's, while confident her business will survive after ten years, worries about other local businesses in Carlisle still getting off the ground and how they'll survive. The emotion gets to her at times, too.

"It's really hard to watch ten years of effort that you've clawed away being a viable, successful business kind of slip away," Gilbert said.

Credit: WPMT FOX43, Georgie Lou's Retro Candy
Georgie Lou's Retro Candy has been operating for over ten years in Carlisle, Cumberland County.

For the Artuses, Miesees has been in business not just a decade, but almost a century and a half.

"We've been in business for 145 years. Was really looking forward to having a party to celebrate that. We want to try and make sure Miesse's stays around for another 100 years," Tracy Artus said.

And should the crisis continue, the potential future is hard to ignore.

"The lasting impact this could have towards the Christmas season... if this continues into that, late summer and early fall into the buying season for Christmas, then I would be a little more concerned," Evans said.

"What happens when we're released from self-isolation?" Gilbert said. "How many people come back and how quickly? It could be a year before we fully know the impact of what's happening."

For now, the choice to stay positive is what is keeping these businesses and owners going.

"We're really blessed here," Evans said. "Still family owned and operated."

"How could I not be happy with this guy next to me?" Tracy Artus said.

You can find more information about these local shops on their websites. Here's they are:

Miesse Candies: https://www.miessecandies.com/ 

Evans Candy: http://www.evanscandy.com/ 

Georgie Lou's Retro Candy: http://www.georgielous.com/