It’s been a long time since Bradford’s had a proper candy store on Main Street.
That shortcoming will soon be remedied when The Bradford Chocolate Factory opens at 72 Main St. this fall, bringing with it old-fashioned — and some Bradford-made — treats.
“Old fashioned historic districts have to have a candy store. They have to,” said Greg Ross, who owns Goldenwest Group LLC with Barbara Ross.
Goldenwest Group has entered into a partnership with Bradford residents Tim Gigliotti and Bob Pascarella in the endeavor. Chocolatier Pascarella has been perfecting his sweet creations for two decades.
The business associates anticipate renovations to be complete around mid-October with an opening slated for early November, according to a press release on the chocolate shop.
Ross said that, as a fourth-generation resident of Bradford, he remembers candy shops such as DeSelle’s and Candy Kitchen. Today, Bradfordians have to travel to Ellicottville, N.Y., or further to see that kind of candy shop, he said.
He was talking to Gigliotti and Pascarella one day and mentioned that he had a couple of vacant buildings, and the idea for the candy shop developed from there.
Though Ross has moved out of Pennsylvania, he still has happy memories of Bradford’s candy shops.
“Growing up in Bradford, I remember going to the Candy Kitchen,” where Ross enjoyed the filled Easter eggs. DeSelle’s was known for its sponge candy, he added.
In fact, patrons may have the chance to try some of their favorite candy from the former Bradford shops, as the store partners have recipes from both shops.
The famous sponge candies will be available in dark, milk and white chocolate. Customers will be able to buy filled Easter eggs like those from the Candy Kitchen at St. Francis of Assisi, as well as rock candy like that from DeSelle’s.
Pascarella’s Bradford-made candy will be sold alongside candy from contractors. Ross noted there are “some really good contractors” from places such as New York and Chicago that he is excited to work with. Old-fashioned candies like clove gum and taffy, along with many other treats from the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s will be available.
Customers to the shop will be faced with a difficult choice: picking from the roughly 200 types of candy.
Customers will have the option of enjoying a treat at the candy counter — with “18 feet of individual candies” — or taking home candies in one- to five-pound boxes.
There will be promotions throughout the year, too, with treats for major holidays and signups so customers can have discounts on the occasion of their birthday or anniversary.
“There’s a lot of things that we’re putting together,” Ross said.
Ross said the shop will also be able to make private label items, making signature items available for entities such as Bradford City, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford or the Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center.
Another feature of the “nostalgic old-fashioned candy store” will be a wall of memorabilia showcasing Bradford’s candy store history. Ross explained he has been talking to Sally Costik and Molly Lindahl at the Bradford Landmark Society, who have been helping him find old treasures such as Bradford candy store ads. Bradford Mayor Tom Riel is donating an old candy jar from a local store, and Ross’s mother had an old chocolate box from 1918.
Ross is inviting anyone with Bradford candy memorabilia they would like to sell to contact them.
Contact information, as well as more details about the store, can be found at www.bradfordchocolatefactory.com.
Ross said the store, located at the corner of Main and Chestnut streets, will be completely gutted, and all local contractors and an awning company from Jamestown, N.Y., will be doing the work to transform the space into the candy shop. A new front fascia will brighten Main Street, too.
The building at 72 Main is just one of several that the Goldenwest Group owns in Bradford, including several in the historic Downtown Bradford Business District.
The company currently only has two other vacancies in downtown Bradford. One business the Rosses are considering is putting an old-fashioned barber shop at 7 Main St. At 21 Main St., they are looking at adding second-floor apartments.
Ross is excited about the improvements the city is currently doing on Main Street.
“I’ve got to hand it to Anita (Dolan). She’s working 24/7,” he said.
All the ongoing projects are developing something Ross would love to see in his hometown: “an old-fashioned historic Main Street.”