WESTWOOD, N.J. -- J.J. Krachtus owner of Conrad's Confectionery in Westwood, still remembers the advice his grandfather gave him years ago.
"He told me, 'Take care of the quality and this business will take care of you," said Krachtus. "It was almost like a premonition."
Now, more than 25 years later, Krachtus is still, more or less, following his grandfather's formula.
The longtime candy store, which dates to 1928, is all about service and quality.
The store, first owned by Fred Conrad before being bought by Krachtus' grandfather Jimmy Pouletsos, a one-time soda jerk, is known for its handmade candy and ice cream.
And while it still has that old-fashioned ice cream parlor feel, Krachtus -- since he joined the business seven years ago -- has done his part to update it, now selling Conrad's candy online nationwide.
Fresh off Conrad's busy ice cream season, Krachtus said the store is gearing up for Halloween, with Thanksgiving not far behind (chocolate turkeys are big sellers).
The Montclair resident said though he grew up with the shop -- he remembers making his first batch of chocolate ice cream when he was 11 -- it wasn't always a certainty he would join the family business.
That is, until graduating college with an engineering degree and trying his hand at corporate life.
"It wasn't for me," he said. Instead, he turned to what he knew: the sweetness of making people happy.
Krachtus said he's found his purpose in Conrad's and sees ownership of the shop as an opportunity to develop his business philosophy, which is to bring good to all parties involved.
He said one of the best parts of his job is when he sees multiple generations of the same family come in for ice cream or candy and pull him aside for a chat.
In fact, if he ever has time, he'd like to put photos of those families on the store's Facebook page.
He said the resurgence to support local and to support familiy businesses has helped make a difference to his bottom line though at the end of the day, it's all about offering the best ice cream and candy at the best price.
"As long as we can do that, we'll be in business another for a good many years to come."
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