A bright, cheery atmosphere and a sweet smell greet visitors to Neumeister Candy Shoppe at Wolf Creek Mall.
Customers can feast their eyes on a wide array of chocolate candy, as well as Jelly Belly and many other types, before making a buying decision.
"Some people buy by the piece and some people buy by the pound," said owner Diane Hoover.
PHOTO BY VICKI JOHNSON
Diane Hoover, owner of Neumeister’s Candy Shoppe, bags gummy candy behind the counter at the Tiffin store at Wolf Creek Mall.
She said it's particularly fun to watch children walk through the door.
"The look in the children's eyes is priceless," she said. "It's like well a kid in a candy store."
The store contains display cases of milk, dark and white chocolate confections. Chocolate creams are mint, maple, butter, cherry, vanilla, caramel and pecan, as well as maple, vanilla and peanut clusters. The list also includes turtles, filberts, walnuts, coconut, almonds, cashews and molasses, along with chocolate-covered raisins and pretzels.
In addition to chocolate, Jelly Belly products are popular, she said.
"We have 43 individual flavors, plus mixes," she said. "Chili mango is my favorite."
Chili mango is one of the latest flavors she offers. They were selected by a group of third graders she hosted for a school field trip. She asked them to taste the jelly beans and vote on their favorites.
"Strawberry cheesecake was beat out by chili mango and pomegranate by third graders," she said.
Along with candy, an assortment of cookies and gourmet coffees are available.
Hoover said she first thought about expanding from the original store in Upper Sandusky to Tiffin when she was contacted by another Wolf Creek tenant a few years ago. At the time she was unsure of her plans.
In the meantime, her niece and nephew requested permission to open a Neumeister's in Florida. In the process of helping them she began to consider Tiffin.
"I thought 'Oh my, could I really?'" she said. "I prayed about it and everything fell into place. It was meant to be."
A fair number of Tiffin people were traveling to Upper Sandusky to buy candy, she said, so she already had a customer base.
But numbers are growing since the store opened quietly in November.
"We didn't want too much publicity before the holidays while we were getting started," she said. "But people are finding us now. The college kids have found us."
Hoover said she plans to spend a lot of time in the Tiffin store for the first 18 months as she gets a feel for candy demand in Tiffin.
"I want to know what people want from a candy shop," she said. "We are a 'want,' not a 'need.'
"There's an ebb and flow to the candy, which keeps our sanity because we need that downtime."
Hoover purchased Neumeister's Candy Shoppe in 2001 after retiring from her job as secretary for 20 years at her husband's dental practice.
"And then I realized I can't not work," she said. "I felt like a fish out of water.
"So now I hand-dip chocolates," she said.
Hoover said she has maintained the 100-year-old process of making chocolate begun by David Neumeister when he emigrated from Germany three generations ago.
The original store in Upper Sandusky had been part of a bakery, but the bakery closed in the early 1970s and the candy shop remained open. Although almost every town had its own candy shop, the "old ways" have mostly succumbed to more modern methods of making chocolate.
"We have no paraffin and no preservatives," she said. "Only good stuff. It's tempered the old-fashioned way. Every day you do your process and then you dip your chocolate."
"We ship all over the world," she said. "It's hard to get things into Russia. It's really hard."
A few of the other counties are Germany, Japan and Mexico.
Not only does Hoover sell chocolate directly from the store, but she provides custom orders for weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, alumni gatherings and other parties.
She takes orders over the phone.
"Most of the time when you order something it's not made yet," she said. "I want to get a feel for the occasion, and then I'll make suggestions and then we make it."
She also provides candy wholesale for organization fundraisers. In the future she plans to offer school field trips - as she does in the Upper Sandusky store - which focus on math and science skills, and dipping chocolate.
Hoover said the company's website being redesigned to be more shopper-friendly, but it can be seen at neumeisters
For more information or to place an order, call (419) 937-2447 or (888) 362-2639 or email info@neumeisters