Tony Godek has taken the reverse route of society and gone from high tech to low tech.
A one-time telecommunications engineer and project manager, Godek and his wife, Cindy, now own and operate Sweet Nostalgia, a "retro" candy store at 318 W. State St. in downtown Geneva's throwback block.
Godek chuckles when he points out you can find retro items at Mr. Kitschy across the street, then walk half a block to Kiss the Sky for some retro music, then walk back to Sweet Nostalgia for a Zagnut, Zero or Bun -- or maybe just some of those sweet flavored syrups in the small, wax bottles -- just like you bought 40 years ago at the little store near your grade school.
The change began for the Godeks when they were selling their retro candy on the Internet to make some extra money.
"We decided that if we found a really good location we would open a storefront," Godek says. "When a candy store came up for sale in Geneva, we bought it and got a great location in a great city." That store was the former Candy Concepts, which became Candy, Candy, Candy under the Godeks, on Third Street, just north of State Street. The Godeks eventually moved around the corner onto State Street -- which they considered an even better location in a great city -- and renamed their store Sweet Nostalgia.
Tony is now a fixture in downtown Geneva from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Sunday, when the store is open from noon to 4 p.m. He has a front row seat to Geneva's ample pedestrian population, and many of those passing by wave or stick their heads inside the door to say hi.
Does Tony ever get bored behind the candy counter every day and wish he were back on the road as an engineer?
"Sometimes I miss that, but the travel got to be a bit much," he says. "I like working with people no matter what the job."
1. Who are your biggest customers?
I can't divulge my customers' weight, but we are basically split between the kids and adults who want their retro candy.
2. You specialize in candy of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s -- how different is that from current-day candy?
Current-day candy is favored by current-day kids. The adults cherish their childhood memories of going to the candy store. For a lot of us, it was our first real decision that we made using our own money. It was a big deal!
3. Do people eat more or less candy today?
I think we generally eat less candy as we get older, although when I do eat candy it's chocolate, not the sugary sweet stuff. Do people eat less candy today than years past? I don't know.
4. Does candy get unfairly, or fairly, blamed for America's obesity situation?
I don't think so. In general, we know we need to eat healthier, but not to the exclusion of an occasional treat. We don't have to punish ourselves. Everything in moderation is still a good motto to live by.
5. Is candy recession-proof, and if not, what kinds of things affect the candy business?
Trends and fads affect the candy business as anything else. Overall, candy is a 'feel good' food. We should treat ourselves once in a while. It is not recession-proof. We've seen a downturn in business since before last Christmas, which I believe is directly related to the economy. Folks are tightening their belts, no pun intended.
6. McCain, Obama, none of the above or none of your business?
Willy Wonka for president! Wouldn't that be sweet?
7. What is the most unusual thing you've seen come by the store window?
It's not unusual, but it's amazing how many people walk by and don't smile. Cheer up, people! Life's too short. Stop in a get yourself a little sugar sunshine!
8. Any famous, or infamous of unusual customers?
We have been privileged to be interviewed by Tracy Butler and Janet Davies at WLS Channel 7 television, and have had numerous radio interviews by Steve and Johnnie at WGN radio along with Nick Digilio. They're all candy lovers. Billy Joel used to order special cough drops from us, but the company went out of business and we haven't heard from him in a few years.
9. What's your favorite candy?
Anything with chocolate!
10. What candy do you dislike the most?
Sour candy. That's not enjoyable to me.
Source: Aurora Beacon News