Candy Factory Move Hits Sticking Point

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Plans to move Gollipops, a local candy factory in north Payson, to Main Street has hit a sticking point, but the company's owners haven't given up on the idea.

"... We are not ready to make a move yet," said Ardella Keith, the company's co-owner. "We are still looking at our options."

One of the Main Street lots Keith and her husband and business partner, Don, were considering was sold to someone else, she said, and that may have fueled rumors that they had given up on Main Street and were planning to move the company to "Iowa."

Iowa, however, was never a consideration, Keith said.

"It's Idaho, not Iowa," she said. "And we're not moving there."

The Keiths want to buy new factory equipment from a company in Idaho, and there was a possibility, Keith said, that "we would have to go up there and run it for awhile before moving it to Arizona. It's just huge equipment."

Further fueling the rumors that Gollipops had decided to pull out of Payson was a large "yard" sale held at the company's current factory at 1010 N. Beeline Highway a few weeks ago.

"We do that every year," Keith said. "We just did it inside this year because the weather was supposed to be bad."

In September the Keiths and the Town of Payson revealed that they were working together in hopes of building a new manufacturing facility, retail candy shop and candy museum in the Green Valley Redevelopment Area. At that time, Keith cautioned that there were still a lot of "ifs" and "maybes" attached to the deal.

The real story, Keith said, is that the future of Gollipops is on hold temporarily due to financial considerations.

"We're not ready to make a move just yet because of our own financial position," she said. "This is not a good time of the year for us."

Lollipops are a year-round candy, she said, and the holiday candies tend to put a temporary damper on Gollipop sales.

"About the middle of January when all the holiday candy is gone, we pick up again," she said.

Gollipops also has yet to secure the financing it needs to move ahead with the equipment purchase and a move to a new site.

"It is just a very long and tedious process," Keith said. "We have another meeting with the bankers on the 29th, but who knows if that will produce an answer or not."

Gollipops also is still in negotiations with the company that owns the candy-making equipment in Idaho.

One option that is still viable is to move the company to an existing building in Tonto Basin that fits within the parameters of its growth objectives a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot building that could eventually be expanded to at least 30,000 square feet.

Payson Vice Mayor Dick Wolfe, who has worked closely with Gollipops to make a Main Street candy factory a reality, is still hopeful. "First of all," Wolfe said, "the town can do more for them in the redevelopment area than we can if they move somewhere else in Payson."

But Wolfe confirmed that Gollipops' first choice on Main Street may be gone.

"From what I've been told, there may be a deal pending on that land," he said. "We're all disappointed, but we're still actively looking for another site. Our desire is to keep them, and they want to stay."

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