Spotlight On…Living the “Sweet” Life
Dolores (Gilles) Powers ’58
In 1972, Dee Powers and her husband Kieran opened a shop in the Wisconsin Dells. Originally, their goal was to sell wool and antiques, but after two years, they were asked to consider selling candy instead—a definite area of interest in the high tourist region of the Dells.
Thus, Powers Gourmet was born. In 1984, Dee and her husband were able to convert their garage into a licensed kitchen and moved the business home to Lyndon Station. They no longer have the shop and now focus purely on manufacturing, taking orders from around the country. They are helped by three of their neighbors, although they do hire extra help during the busy Christmas season. The rest of the family also joins in whenever their four children, spouses, and grandchildren come home to help. The most popular items are their 11 varieties of fudge and their caramel candies, including turtles, caramel delights, cashew critters, and more.
The best part of owning their business has been meeting and developing a relationship with their many clients. “We have had so much fun,” says Dee. “I wouldn’t continue to do it if it wasn’t fun, but we have been very fortunate.”
Laurie (Otte) Finn ’87
When Laurie Finn and her husband Frank opened Finnottes Nut Shop on Nov. 1, 1986, they carried just six products. You could choose from mixed nuts or cashews in three sizes—a tin, a small jar, or a large jar. Twenty-one years later, doing business as Finnottes Nut and Chocolate Shop, they have nearly 400 varieties of everyday candies and nuts, not counting the special holiday varieties they carry throughout the year.
Laurie, who graduated from Viterbo in 1987, said that she was going through a tough time in school because she had changed her major and didn’t really know what she wanted to do after graduation. Her husband had always wanted to own a family business, so they began Finnottes about six months before she graduated, and she’s been with the business ever since.
At one time, Finnottes had up to 20 employees, but they preferred the feel of a family-operated business and wanted to keep things simple. Now, Laurie is the only full-time employee. As for her business philosophy, Laurie says, “It’s always been about family, about helping your neighbor, and about fantastic customer service and a high quality product.”
The best part of her job, she says, is knowing that “there’s somebody who’s going to share a treat, create a memory, and create a tradition, at every stage of life. I feel very blessed to be able to share a few of those moments with people.”