It's no surprise that when it comes to selling candy bars for fundraising efforts, Easton's Hilliards House of Candy takes pride in dealing with the local organizations and small groups that some chocolate-making conglomerates might otherwise overlook.
After all, Hilliards has existed for almost 90 years as the small, local candy store that can deliver big flavor.
"We stay within about a 50 mile radius and it’s a service oriented business," said owner Charlie McCarthy. "We deal with the small groups that the big players aren’t interested in. The big players aren’t going after the scout troops. They’re not going to the dance schools or the individuals raising for a cause. That is our niche. In our area, we own that."
Charlie, and his wife Judy Hilliard McCarthy began selling chocolate bars at a wholesale price to area groups and organizations looking to raise money for a cause in the early 1990s. The effort was a way to connect with the local community while making it easier for organizations to fundraise.
Twenty years later, chocolate bars for fundraisers have become a major part of Hilliards' identity. If you live in or around the Shovel Town , it's unlikely you've never been asked by a scout, little leaguer, or member of a marching band to support their cause by buying a Hilliards bar.
"I think it’s also good because it’s such an easy thing for people to sell," Judy said. "Especially, people are familiar with our chocolate as opposed to the national brands out there. It’s pretty easy to pay $2 for a candy bar."
The McCarthys said they work hard to make sure it is as easy as possible for customers – many of whom are volunteers or parents.
Fundraising boxes of 40 bars are always on stock and stores in Easton, Canton and Hanover are open seven days a week. Anyone looking to raise money for any cause is allowed to purchase a box at half the retail price without even calling first for an appointment.
Those looking to raise money can buy chocolate bars for $1 a piece and sell for $2.
"We’re just trying to put ourselves in the place of the person who’s doing this," Judy said. "It’s a side thing for their whole life. They’re doing some fundraising and we want to make it really easy. It just can’t be complicated."
Hilliards' fundraising program has helped spread the word, as well.
Instead of renting billboard space, taking to the airwaves or traveling far and wide to market the Hilliards brand, the small, local company has largely let the product speak for itself.
While Hilliards many not have the resources and wide-reaching appeal of major, nationally marketed brands, Hilliards fundraising has become a major resource.
"We had someone who placed a corporate order at Christmas time,” Judy said.” He said ‘I have never heard of you before and I never had your candy before. I was down in Rhode Island and a kid came by with one of your dark chocolate bars and it was the best dark chocolate I ever had. I had to call you.' And, he gave us a huge Christmas order."
For the McCarthys, selling for a cheaper price isn't an excuse to produce a less desirable product, though.
"If you’re selling something at a very low profit margin, you can afford to cut costs with the chocolate and how you package it," Charlie said. "We use a nice foil wrap and the cheap way is what you call flow wrap. We put a lot into the quality and the presentation."
Most importantly, the fundraising chocolate isn’t made differently than what is sold on the corner of Main and Washington.
"What we sell is the chocolate bars that is the same chocolate that we use here in the store,” Charlie. “It’s a premium chocolate. It’s not commercial. I don’t know of anyone else in our area that sells for fundraising premium chocolate."