PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Beth Tauro and Craig Barker, who own The Crazy Lady Candy Store, look through their shop. “The Sweetest SuperHero,” written by Tauro and Barker, is on display in the store.
By BILL BROTHERTON
MARBLEHEAD — Kids of all ages are sweet on The Crazy Candy Lady.
How could they not be, considering she stocks nearly two dozen colors of M&M’s, chocolate lobsters and cellphones, and retro treats like Pixy Stix and Pop Rocks? These are not items you’d find offered by the drugstore chains.
“Crazy, fun and super sweet: That’s our motto,” said Beth Tauro, co-owner with Craig Barker of the shop located on Pleasant Street next to Warwick Place. “Everyone who comes in here is happy.”
The store is bright and cheery. Interactive arcade games like Ms. Pac Man and Plucky Ducks bring smiles to baby boomers’ faces. A built-to-scale replica of Marblehead Lighthouse by town artist Carl Siegel occupies a premiere spot in the shop.
While candy lady Tauro — who doesn’t seem crazy in the least — points out specialty items to this reporter, who has stuffed his face with a caramel truffle, customers are laughing as they pick out stocking stuffers and chat with the young staff.
“We are equal opportunity employers,” said Tauro. “We hire both Marblehead and Swampscott students.”
The M&M’s are extremely popular, said Tauro. Students who get accepted to college are often surprised by their family with a “ginormous” jar of that school’s colors.
The store is the only retail partner of the Norman Love brand of top-quality chocolates from Maine to New York. The Crazy Candy Lady also has tin after tin of 10-cent candies, so even kids with limited funds can stop in and be able to afford a sweet treat. It has a large supply of nut-, sugar-, gluten- and dairy-free yummies. It hosts birthday parties and crafts sessions, and provides candy buffets for weddings and bat/bar mitzvahs. And, of course, there are numerous Christmas- and Hanukkah-themed confections on the shelves.
Also for sale is “The Sweetest SuperHero,” an illustrated book written by Tauro and Barker and illustrated by town resident Susan Schrader. It tells the story of Candace (Candy), who with the help of The Crazy Candy Lady, helps others overcome life’s challenges. It’s based in Marblehead and the town’s lighthouse plays a prominent part in the story. Tauro hopes this is the first of many such books, with future editions focusing on bullying and other issues that affect young people.
Which leads to the obvious question. What’s with the name The Crazy Candy Lady?
When Tauro’s daughter Jessica was 3, she drew a crazy lady with a heart-shaped head and wild hair. “I found the drawing and had Jessica redraw it as a 14-year-old. The crazy lady with the wild hair became our logo,” said Tauro. “Crazy and fun, that’s our store.”
Tauro and Barker are both Marblehead natives. When both were divorced, Barker sent Tauro a Facebook message out of the blue: “Remember when I took you to the prom?” It was 32 years after the prom. They found out they were still sweet on each other and have reunited, and are now a blended family with five children and two dogs.
“I grew up in Marblehead, so I’m crazy about the town, too,” said Tauro. “And let me tell you, we are the house to go to on Halloween.”
Bill Brotherton can be reached at [email protected]