116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION - Connie Seegers found her calling as a chocolatier in the classified ads.
'Back in 1995, I saw an ad in The Gazette for someone who wanted to teach people how to make candy and sell them his recipes,” Seegers recalled.
Intrigued, Seegers responded. She had never made candy before, but after working in a variety of office and retail jobs, she was ready to try something new.
It turned out the individual who placed the advertisement owned a candy shop in Wisconsin with his wife and was looking for a way to make some extra income. Seegers felt an instant connection at their first meeting.
'He was a genuine person who really knew his candy,” Seegers said.
Seegers spent two weeks training with the man and purchased his recipes for $15,000. That initial investment is continuing to pay off.
Seegers' first candy shop, the Chocolate Haus, operated at Westdale Mall for three years before Seegers moved it to the Amana Colonies. She sold the business in 2000.
'I tried retirement for three years, but didn't like it,” she said.
Seegers spent some time working in a candy business owned by her ex-husband, where her daughter also worked. After lengthy discussions with her daughter, she decided to get back into business for herself.
Seegers opened Forever Chocolate in Marion on Sept. 6.
The shop's handcrafted confections include fudge, caramels, truffles, turtles, nut clusters and chocolate-dipped pretzels, among others. The business also accepts special orders.
Seegers said she started looking for potential locations for her new business in April, signed a lease in mid-May, and spent the summer remodeling.
'It's a great location right on the corner of Seventh Avenue,” she said. 'Marion is a nice town with friendly people and a lot going on, and they really support their small businesses.”
Seegers said the new shop gives her more work space than what she had before, which allows her to make more varieties of candy.
'I have 84 trays of candy to fill,” she said. 'The candy's always fresh. I'm doing something every day.”
Seegers noted there have been a few big changes since she last owned a candy shop. Wholesale prices of the special candy-making ingredients she uses, which include powdered glucose, hard fat and corn syrup, have increased substantially since 2000.
But while her confections may cost more to make these days, Seegers said it is a lot easier to make them.
'The equipment has come a long way in 14 years.”
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