By Richard M. Madowitz, Owner and Property Manager
Nolan Anaya, the owner of Captain Candy on the lower level of Thornes Marketplace, has sold the business to a young entrepreneur from the Hilltowns.
Levi Smith of Chesterfield is the new owner of the shop, which offers a wide array of retro candies and has been in Thornes for six years. Nolan tells us Levi is a great guy who is incredibly enthusiastic. “The store is still going to be running well. It’s going to be in good hands,” said Nolan, who will continue to work with Levi in monthly check-ins through the end of 2019.
Levi said he will also have coaching and support from his family. His grandfather, Roger Fuller, owns R&R Window Contractors, Inc., in Easthampton, and his family has long been involved in the business. Levi said his grandfather has taught him what it’s like to run a business; he has also worked alongside his elder at a horse stable that his grandfather also ran.
Levi has long been interested in opening his own business, and a candy operation seemed—well, sweet!
Captain Candy offers eclectic products that are not the norm in grocery and convenience stores. Everything from gumballs to candy cigarettes, wax bottles full of juice, Turkish Taffy, Pop Rocks and ZotZ.
“It’s the stuff you just don’t see anymore,” Nolan said, adding he hears that from customers all day long. “People say, ‘I haven’t seen this in years!’ That’s why we’ve been so successful here.”
Nolan’s first business venture was Captain Video, which he opened in Amherst in 1995. That shop offered rentals of 27,000 contemporary movies and artsy films, as well as a candy selection. A resident of North Amherst, Nolan said the business was strong until the start of the age of Netflix and other online viewing options.
In 2009, it became clear to Nolan that Captain Video didn’t have a future. He opened Captain Candy in Amherst that year, expanding on the video store’s candy selections and moving some familiar staff into the candy shop.
In 2013, Nolan moved Captain Candy to Thornes to take advantage of the street traffic in the marketplace. And two years later, he closed Captain Video. “It outlasted Blockbuster,” he said. “It was one of two video stores left in the state.”
At 57, Nolan does not have plans to retire. He will make and sell T-shirts at Grateful Dead concerts and other musical performances.
Levi previously worked at Acme Surplus in Thornes. While investigating businesses up for sale, he learned Captain Candy was seeking a buyer on The Wall Street Journal’s bizbuysell.com. Levi contacted Nolan, and the two worked out their agreement.
Levi is working toward an associate degree in business at Holyoke Community College. He plans to transfer to and complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and eventually earn a master of business administration.
We wish him luck at growing his business!
For Captain Candy’s hours or more information, visit captaincandy.org.