Coombs Country Candy founders Lenore Bailey and Murray Lawlor, left, manager Leanne Hewitt, Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot executive director Lori Camire and CFAC board chair Susan Payne celebrate the sale of the famed candy shop to CFAC on Nov. 1, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Coombs Country Candy founders Lenore Bailey and Murray Lawlor, left, manager Leanne Hewitt, Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot executive director Lori Camire and CFAC board chair Susan Payne celebrate the sale of the famed candy shop to CFAC on Nov. 1, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Coombs Country Candy sold

Unique deal with Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot will ensure store stays open

A unique arrangement between Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot and Coombs Country Candy will ensure that an iconic Alberni Valley business stays open as its founders retire.

Community Futures purchased the candy-making business from owners Murray Lawlor and Lenore Bailey this fall to run it as a social enterprise, CFAC executive director Lori Camire said. A percentage of profits will be committed to initiatives that benefit the community.

Lawlor has more than 50 years of candy and chocolate-making experience. Originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Lawlor honed his candy skills over five decades of owning and operating several businesses in Canada and the United States. Coombs Country Candy was originally located beside the Old Country Market in Coombs, famous for its goats on the roof. Lawlor eventually put down roots in the Alberni Valley and relocated his business to the entrance to Port Alberni.

Lawlor and Bailey will stay on and train apprentices until Feb. 1, 2021.

“We are more than happy to help with the transition,” Lawlor said. “We want to thank all our customers for their many years of dedication and support. It’s been a very rewarding experience for us.”

Leanne Hewitt, who has been with Coombs Country Candy for 19 years, will continue to manage the store.

“We are thrilled to be able to continue doing what we love and have a reputation for, and to give back to the town that supports us so much,” Hewitt said.

The sale’s success is two-fold, Camire said. Not only is it ensuring an established, well-run business continues seamlessly, but it is offering Community Futures a guaranteed revenue stream—much like they are touting to other charities and not-for-profits. The CFAC is funded primarily through Western Economic Diversification, with some provincial funding depending on what programs they are running. Coombs Country Candy will be their second holding company—Venture Connect was their first, putting them on the cutting edge of Community Futures offices in western Canada.

“We have a very entrepreneurial group of people within our office,” Camire said. They recognized the number of baby boomers who are looking to retire, coupled with younger people wanting to run their own businesses. They also see charities and not-for-profits struggling for smaller and smaller pots of funding. Employees with CFAC thought a profit for a non-profit would be a steady way to ensure revenue.

“It was a win-win-win for all we could see.”

Coombs Country Candy had been for sale for a little while when Community Futures started looking at it as a revenue generator. It was identified as an outstanding business ideally positioned for CFAC’s new venture due to the years of efforts and dedication of its founders. It is profitable, and with e-commerce and technology there is potential to expand. Camire said the business is not changing hands due to COVID-19, which is a real threat to many small businesses right now.

“This is in some way a pivot, not due to COVID but due to revenue structures,” she said. Community Futures took possession on Nov. 1, 2020 and expects Coombs Country Candy to operate during its regular hours of operation throughout the upcoming holiday season.

“Most people won’t see change—the same staff, same food. To the outside world it will stay as good as what Murray and Lenore created,” Camire said. “Coombs Country Candy is a great business.”



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictCharity and Donations

Just Posted

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read