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Old Glory Candy relocates to downtown Shawano

The 10-year-old store looks to contribute to the revival of the city’s downtown

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September 5, 2023

SHAWANO – Inspiration can hit anywhere, at any time.

For Karen and Curt Preston and Jenny and James Maltbey – co-owners of Old Glory Candy in Shawano – it came on vacation together in Montana at Yellowstone National Park in 2012.

“We visited an old-fashioned candy store in Virginia City,” Karen said. “We bumped into it by accident, and we loved it. The whole drive home to Wisconsin, we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that was the coolest experience.’”

The couples said they felt moved to bring that experience back to their corner of Wisconsin.

“We felt Shawano needed a candy store, so we spent about eight or nine months working up a business plan,” Karen said. “We figured out what kind of offering we wanted Shawano to have, and then we pulled together some resources. We had some mentorship from the Milwaukee area – people who own candy stores in various places. They gave us input, and we got started.”

The Prestons and Maltbeys opened Old Glory Candy in May 2013.

Since opening, the owners said they have neatly found their roles in the business.

“James is primarily the vendor contact – so he does the ordering and marketing,” Karen said. “He will also be on hand at the store from time to time. Jenny does back-office work – so payroll, taxes and technology things.”

Karen said Curt takes on the role of on-site manager.

“He does staffing, hiring and training,” she said. “He is the management piece. And I am the fudge maker. Now that I’m retired, I am down at the store most days, fulfilling all the day-to-day operations, meeting customers and still making all the fudge.”

Old Glory Candy opened the doors of its new location at 126 S Main St. in downtown Shawano earlier this summer. Xavier Horkman Photo

With a continued goal of creating a candy experience where “kids can be kids and adults can be kids again,” Karen said prompted the store’s recent move – from its location on Division Street to 126 S Main St. in downtown Shawano – which offers the store more space and higher visibility.

Embraced by the community
Karen said Shawano has seen its downtown area undergo a revival over the last five to 10 years, and Old Glory Candy fits in perfectly with the upward trend.

“People want to be downtown,” she said. “They want to have businesses downtown. They want something unique. We’re a travel destination due to our lakes and rivers, so people come north a lot from Milwaukee or Chicago.”

After being in the same location for its first 10 years of operation, Karen said the ownership team began looking at other location options.

“We weren’t sure where we would go because there wasn’t much available downtown,” she said. “Everyone’s trying to get down here. A downtown building was sold, and they reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, any chance you’d want to expand?’ Of course, we wanted to.”

After making the decision to move to the Main Street location, Karen said work started right away – which included a four-month remodel.

“Paper went up on the windows, and people knew we were moving in, but no one could see in the new space,” she said. “So, there was an anticipation, like a blind anticipation. We still had our other store open because we needed to have cash flow.”

The new location opened in June of this year, and a grand opening was held in connection with the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce last month.

“We didn’t tell anybody the day we opened – because quite frankly, we weren’t sure we wanted a mob scene,” she said. “We wanted people to just notice we were open. It was like this beautiful trickle of people coming in saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you’re open.” 

Once the ownership team announced the opening on the store’s Facebook page, Karen said it was an instant hit.

“It was like a big deal,” she said. “People who hadn’t found us since we’d moved would walk in and their jaws would hit the floor.”

The ownership team said they made a conscious effort to recreate the experience that the community has come to embrace with Old Glory Candy.

“Staying in a specific-candy lane, we don’t offer much beyond the sweet stuff,” Karen said. “We’re unique because everyone has a connection to candy in some way. We get stories daily from people. It’s not just about the eating of the candy – it’s about the nostalgic part and people’s memories surrounding the candy. When you have that relationship with customers, those are the stories that come out.” 

Co-owner Karen Preston said Old Glory Candy’s product selection includes several candy varieties that often elicit a sense of nostalgia in customers. Xavier Horkman Photo

The owners of Old Glory Candy said they hope to continue to help customers interact with their nostalgia while creating future nostalgia for others.

“We want to be that destination for people, for the kids, so they can reflect when they’re older,” she said. “And we want to be that nostalgia for older adults.”

Providing products and an experience
Though Karen said Old Glory Candy draws people in for different reasons, it’s the on-site-produced fudge that stands out.

 “I would say our crown jewel is the fudge because it’s made right in the store,” she said. “It’s super fresh, and we have a couple of hundred variations of recipes. So, that’s probably what we’re most proud of from a product perspective.”

“Some people come in for the novelty,” she said, “We have a huge bulk wall where we offer 35 varieties of taffy, 30 different types of penny candy – and it weighs at one price. People can grab their paper bag and fill it up.”

Old Glory Candy’s offerings don’t stop there.

“We also roast cinnamon-glazed nuts,” she said. “We have soft serve (ice cream), which was a big addition when we expanded the store. We have assorted fine chocolates and Belgian truffles.”

For more on Old Glory Candy, visit or check it out on Facebook.

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