Winter on Circuit av enue can be quiet. Down at the Good Ship Lollipop only a few customers find their way to the door seeking chocolate treats.
And yet the candy store does have at least one daily customer who keeps knocking, literally, at the window.
“Aha, he’s been here,” owner David Cook said as he walked around the corner of the store to the side window. He carefully placed five peanuts along the window sill. “If I don’t put food out, he knocks.”
Nicknamed Sandy, the customer is actually a squirrel who stops by three or four times a day. Sandy has been a constant companion at the window sill for over a year now. Mr. Cook and his wife Marguerite even created a chocolate mold in the shape of a squirrel to honor Sandy.
At the store on Tuesday, there was only one squirrel-shaped chocolate left.
“My wife uses nuts to make candy,” Mr. Cook said, explaining why the squirrel is drawn to the store. Evidently, Sandy has more of a salt tooth than a sweet one.
“Unfortunately my wife gets mad at me, but that’s why he comes back. For good nuts.” Besides handmade chocolates, the store has old-fashioned toys and candies.
The Good Ship Lollipop sits in the same location of the former Hilliards Kitch-in-Vue Candies, a longtime favorite for both kids and adults. But the connection does not end with mere location. Co-chocolatier Brenda Mastromonaco is the granddaughter of Perley and Jessie Hilliard, who first opened the shop in the 1940s.
“Fifty per cent of the stuff in here is from way back when,” Mr. Cook said proudly. Turkish Taffy, Cow Tales and candy cigarettes stock up the shelves. So do chocolate pops in funky shapes, from hearts to turkeys to, of course, squirrels.
After the Hilliards leased the store to their nephew in 1989, it underwent many makeovers, from a burrito shop to a massage parlor, until the Cooks took over the shop in 2006 to create a chocolate haven once again.
With the recent closing of Seasons, the candy store stands as one of the few stores on Circuit avenue still open year-round.
“A few kids come in after school for candy,” Mr. Cook said. “But this time of year, we keep the electricity running for the chocolates anyway.”
In between snacking on his favorite creation, an Oreo covered in peanut butter and chocolate, Mr. Cook reads books, waits for customers and looks out for Sandy.
The store is officially open from noon to 6 p.m. in the off-season, but if the lights are on feel free to walk in, or knock at the window.