Candy store closing for a number of reasons

Robert Blackford/Editor

The Maple City Candy Company in Monmouth, along with the restaurant inside, Coconuts, will be closing its doors.

Owner John Kesinger made the announcement to his employees on Monday and released it to the rest of the workforce on Wednesday.

Fifteen years is a good run," said Kesinger. Most businesses of our type close in five years. It was time to start looking at an exit strategy. I didn't want to be 65 (years old) and look at getting rid of eight buildings."

Kesinger had a nice run with the building which has become a Monmouth landmark on Broadway. In the late 90s and early 2000s it was a beacon for Monmouth's downtown retail district providing a cornerstone for new growth.

Kesinger said, "It was fun in the 90s. From 2001-2004 it was fun. We were really a part of Living Windows. We sponsored the MuFoFus. We were involved in the streetlamp program. We sponsored the car show for a few years. There was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement."

But all things come to an end.

"Some of the things have lost their enthusiasm. I figured somebody would step up. I just can't do it any more," said Kesinger. "I know Angie at the Chamber is trying really hard."  

"The candy store has always been profitable," said Kesinger. "The restaurant took a hit. We may have created our own problem. I see a lot of our Monmouth customers here (Aledo). "

Kesinger added, "Over the last 15 years we've seen our ups and downs in the economy."

"We had planned to renovate the Monmouth building," said Kessinger about the future of his business. Plans were to add an elevator and open up the hallways. Estimates for the renovation quickly rose to more than $2 million.

There were other problems too. Kesinger leases a portion of space in between two of his buildings from Maple City Realty. The leased space gives access to a portion of his retail space. "They didn't want to sell their building." Kesinger was wary of not having control of that space.

Kesinger said, We got a lot of TIF money from Aledo to assist us in opening the Aledo store. There is not a lot of TIF money available for us in Monmouth. "We have such a good facility in Aledo. We spent a lot of money down here. That was a big part of it."

Kesinger has 22 employees in Aledo and has offered positions to five or six people from the Monmouth place. "Some of the people have been with me since Coconuts opened. We had very little turnover there. They are good team players. Aledo will be a better living environment for them where they can reach their potential. The future looks pretty good up there."

Being two places at once was taking its toll on Kesinger's family as well. While he was in Aledo his wife Diane was running the Monmouth store. "I got home at 9:30 p.m. last night. We talked for about an hour and went to bed. We were up and off again the next morning. Our only day together was Sunday."

Kesinger said he has kicked around the idea of moving to Aledo but is reluctant because he has a son in sixth grade in Monmouth with all of his friends there.

"It was a meeting place for a lot of people. People who came in as kids now bring their kids in." said Kesinger. "A lot of good people worked there. We were a part of a lot of activities."

Kesinger doesn't know what the future will be for the Monmouth building. "We would entertain offers to purchase the building. We'll be moving inventory now. We haven't decided on the outcome of the building."