Where to Buy Your Easter Chocolate: Lucas Candies in Haverstraw
The 118-year-old Rockland County candy shop sells out at Easter (and it’s no wonder why)
Haverstraw’s Lucas Candies makes more than 3,000 chocolate gifts —and a ton of jelly beans — for the holiday
Lucas Candies in Haverstraw literally stops traffic the week before Easter, which this year is on April 20. The store serves so many customers from Wednesday through Saturday (Good Friday lines tend to stretch out the door) that they offer customers valet parking. “There’s ample parking, but this is an old town, so finding it can be tricky,” says owner Nick Loucas. “When we do it, it alleviates any problems.”
Easter is a lucrative time for all chocolatiers, and Lucas Candies is no exception. They stand out, however, because they’ve been selling sweets for 118 years. Loucas — whose father, grandfather, and great-great-uncle owned the shop before him — reports that Easter has been the busiest time for them through every generation. And the Loucases aren’t the only ones around Haverstraw who benefit from the influx of candy lovers. “We had one person who owns a business here say, ‘Oh, here comes the white bag parade,’ meaning almost all the people walking down the block had white Lucas bags after doing their Easter shopping with us,” says Loucas. Although many of the loyal customers are Haverstraw residents, Loucas says that a large chunk of them hail from out of town. “The local businesses that really rely on outside traffic love it,” he says.
Fan favorite items include the classics: bunnies (both hollow and solid), jelly beans, and chocolate Easter baskets. Yes, the basket itself is made of chocolate and is filled with other cocoa treats. “You end up with a basket that you eat also,” says Loucas. “You’re not stuck with a wicker basket — we have those, too, but the chocolate ones sell the most.” Is anyone surprised by that? We sure aren’t.
In order to prepare for this springtime rush, production begins in January — even before Valentine’s Day. The store makes about 1,000 baskets per week until the shelves are completely filled. Even so, each year they sell out. “By Good Friday the stock thins out a little, and by Holy Saturday there are a lot of holes on the shelves,” Loucas says.
But what keeps chocolate lovers coming back year after year? Perhaps it has something to do with the time-tested recipe: The chocolates made in 2014 have exactly the same ingredients as those made in 1896. “We’ve modernized production a little bit, but the recipe is the same,” Loucas says with pride. And you can’t discount the nostalgia factor. The store is still located in its original building on Main Street, and has the original floors and ceiling. “We stay really close to tradition here, and people like that,” says Loucas. “We have a lot of customers who bring their children and even grandkids, and reminisce around Easter time.”