HIGHLAND | From classic candy buttons and flying saucers to gummies and chocolates, the candy tradition continues at the newest location of Greco Nut and Candy.
John and Jean Fager took over the bulk nut and candy stores from the Greco family four years ago and are building on the family's candy heritage with the addition of a Northwest Indiana store.
"We're a local neighborhood candy store that has been in business in the south suburbs of Chicago for over 30 years," Jean Fager said. "We have just about everything you could want in a candy store including old–time stuff like marshmallow cones and wax bottles. People come in and say 'We haven't seen this stuff in quite a long time.'"
John Fager said the couple decided to buy the stores, which also include locations in Lansing, Tinley Park and Oak Lawn, when John Greco was ready to retire. Jean Fager worked with Greco at her business, Complete Accounting Services in Griffith.
"He decided he wanted to sell and it was a good fit for us. I had been in business years ago," John Fager said. "Jean's been in business and knows what it takes, and of course, being the accountant, she knew a lot about (Greco's) business."
Jean Fager said it's a tough environment these days for small businesses.
"Finding financing is virtually impossible," Jean said. "We are doing this ourselves. It helps that I have the background that I do. I take care of all of the accounting work. John is managing the stores and bringing in product. We each bring something to the table."
They strive to carry candies produced in America, including the company's long–standing relationship with Albanese Confectionery Group.
"We try to stay with local or American–made products," John said. "We sell a great deal of gummies from Albanese. Greco and Albanese go back to the beginning of their companies. We have purchased gummies from Albanese since the first day they were produced."
Jean Fager said their focus on just candy and nuts is a benefit for the stores, which feature more than 500 items.
"We are just a candy store. When you go into some other stores, there is ice cream, popcorn or coffee and candy seems to be kind of an add–on," she said. "Candy is an inexpensive indulgence. With a couple bucks, you can have your favorite candy and it's a cheap little escape."
In the future, John Fager said they hope to branch out and open more stores in Northwest Indiana.
"It's a lot more fun selling candy than selling tax returns," Jean Fager said.