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2014-03-27

Sweet treats & Christmas at Cowboy Capital Candy Company

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Every once in awhile, I really love my job. Take this week for example. I got to be the "kid in the candy store!" And I got to celebrate Christmas, too!
The Cowboy Capital Candy Company and Christmas Corner shop is that perfect little slice of heaven on Main Street where sweets and sweet spirits conjoin in joyful celebration.
Owner Alice Ragan opened her shop at 818A Main Street in late November of last year. Lingering confusion at City Hall about new business sign regulations means you have to look for Ragan's sign on her window, but she's right next to Eva Adamietz's Hair Unlimited, just across the street from Mulberry's Wine Bar.
Many local residents will recognize Alice's familiar smile and her signature top knot from her years working at the Super S grocery store.
"My husband and I worked for years but had no retirement, so I know I will have to work until I die," she said. "I wanted to be doing something that made me look forward to going to work everyday."
Christmas always held a special magic for Alice. In her childhood it was a period of joy and happiness set in the midst of hard times.
"I love the spirit of Christmas," she said. "It takes all the ugliness away from people."
Deciding she had put in enough time behind the check-out counter, Alice told her husband she wanted to take their small savings account and open a Christmas store.
He encouraged the venture and she took her first steps as a businesswoman at an age when most people are beginning their retirement years.
"I realized that just carrying the Christmas stuff wasn't going to be enough and I already had stocked Christmas candy, so adding the candy store was a natural," said Alice.
Candy is memories, she said, "It tastes like your childhood." So she looks for candies that represent the decades from the 40s to the 80s. When I lamented that licorice, one of my favorite childhood treats, no longer tastes like I remembered it from my nickel bag of mixed candy bought at my Uncle Fritz's country store in the 50s, Alice said, "Try this!"
A small three-quarter inch square had three layers of color: pink, black and white. My hand was about 10 inches from my nose and I could already smell the licorice. A tiny nibble filled my mouth with melting sweetness and that unique earthy flavor. It was so potent, I was able to nibble on that tiny candy for 15 minutes, and the taste of licorice lingered in my mouth for an hour afterward. Heaven! (If you are over 40 and have heart disease or high blood pressure, you'll want to carefully limit ingestion of black licorice, of course.)
If you have a special candy memory, and Alice doesn't already have it on her shelves, she'll track it down and special order it for you.
She now has a wide selection of Easter candies in stock just in time to fill those plastic eggs.
"I do gift baskets for adults and children," she said. "Grandparents find it a great way to get something special for the grandkids." Alice says there is no fluff in her gift baskets, either. "My candy and nuts go all the way to the bottom of the basket." Gift assortments start at $25.
The Candy Company carries a wide variety of hard candies, chewy taffies, and filled candies. There are also gummies in bears, cows, penguins, sharks and pigs. Chocolates include truffles. There are also sugar free varieties available.
"I've just started carrying Fredericksburg Fudge," said Ragan, setting a brick of dark brown creamy ecstasy on the counter. "Isn't this beautiful?"
With warmer weather on the way, you can stop in for an ice cream treat from the cooler which includes Hagen Dazs. "I told my vendor that if my shop fails, I want to have the good stuff to eat!" Ragan joked.
Of course, the true heart of the store lies in the spirit of Christmas reflected in the fully decorated trees guarding the edges of the shop, garlands draped overhead, and ornaments dangling from displays. She just got in a supply of luxurious looking mercury glass ornaments. "They're going to be the big thing for Christmas this year," she advised.
"I'll sell a single ornament, or a single tree, or I'll sell the whole tree, fully decorated," she said. "I'll even follow you home and set it up for you, then take it down and pack everything up after the holidays."
Don't have room for a tree? No problem. "I have a half tree that fits right against the wall. There are now trees that fit in a corner, or that hang from the wall." If she doesn't have it in stock, she can special order what you need and have it within 10 days.
If you remember a special ornament from your childhood, Ragan will be happy to get online to research it and track it down.
If you have special requests for candy or Christmas memories, call Ragan at 830-496-2440.
"Everyday when I turn my key in the front door and open the shop, I feel happy," she said. "I believe people can carry the feelings of Christmas throughout the year."
So, stop by and treat yourself or someone you care for to something delicious, and wish this lovely woman a merry Christmas!