Monday, May 16, 2011
UPDATED: Mary of Puddin Hill, Greenville Texas fruitcake maker, to shut down May 21
Been making fruitcake in Greenville since 1839.
Mary of Puddin Hill, Texas maker of fruitcakes and chocolate, will shut down its Greenville store and entire business this week. No more store, no more mail-order, no more fruitcake.
Owner Ken Bain confirmed that the closure would occur on May 21, but said he'd heard from some people who expressed interest in keeping the business going.
"Since we announced we're closing, we have heard from a number of people who are interested from an investment point of view in keeping things going," Bain said. "If we get someone who will purchase the business to keep us going, then we'd be interested in that. We’ve announced we’re closing, and if nothing changes from where we're speaking right now, that is what will happen. Anything can happen in four of five days."
Puddin Hill, a venerable institution in Greenville since the 1950s, has roots dating to a fruitcake recipe from 1839 by original founders James and Mary Horton. According to the Puddin Hill website, Mary Horton's original recipe has never been changed.
"The cakes are still made with an abundance of nuts (pecan, apricot and walnut varieties), cherries, pineapple and dates with just enough batter to hold it all together. There are no spices or citron, and no preservatives or additives."
They opened a store in Greenville in 1948. In recent years, their "Little Puds" -- miniature/individual versions of their fruit cakes -- were among their most popular items. They opened their candy kitchen in 1980, making caramel and pecan clusters and a pecan nut brittle called Pecan Krunch.
Corsicana competitor Collin Street Bakery plans to install install huge digital signs near Puddin Hill's headquarters and possibly open stores nearby as well.
Mary of Puddin Hill employs about 12 to 15 people full time, with extra seasonal workers who come in the fall, for the company's big Christmas season. Two of the employees have worked there for more than 40 years.
"A bunch of customers have already called and emailed saying they wished we didn't have to close," said a customer-service employee. "We have wonderful customers. "We're going to lose not just our customers but a lot of friends."
Bain said that their catalog sales were up in the last year but their retail operation was way down because of the economy and because road construction made it difficult for customers to get into the store.
"Our exit on the Interstate has been closed for a number of months, they've been doing a lot of roadwork out here, making it harder for people to get here," he said.
They've also suffered from price increases on raw materials like chocolate, sugar, and nuts.
"We print the catalog and then find out that our costs go up, and we can't raise the price," Bain said.
Meanwhile, they're girding themselves for the already-building onslaught of last-ditch orders.
"People have heard we're closing, so we've gotten a lot of orders, people who are trying to buy their Christmas orders now," he said.