In the RBA Member Spotlight series, we'll be profiling valued members of the Retail Bakers of America community.

This week, we're looking at C&C Candies & Country Store, Inc. in Friedensburg, Pennsylvania. The family owned and operated small grocery store started as a candy supply and chocolate shop in 1997, but has since expanded to include groceries and an in-store bakery in 2005.

The business offers a variety of baked goods made on site including breads, pies, brownies, donuts and cakes, It makes specialty cakes for all occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, showers and weddings.

Get to know owner Amy Clauser and C&C Candies & Country Store, Inc. more below.

How many years have you been in business?

C&C Candies & Country Store, Inc.: Over 25 years in the candy business - 18 years in the baking business.

What made you want to get into the baking industry/why are you passionate about baking?

I took a very indirect route to get into the baking industry. The baking business happened for me kind of by accident. My mom made candy and chocolates out of our home for years for holidays, then starting selling them to friends and co-workers. She eventually expanded into selling our chocolates at local stores and at craft fairs in the area. We opened our retail store when I was in high school, selling chocolates, candy and candy making supplies. We then added cake decorating supplies and eventually in 2005 we had the opportunity expand our retail operation when the grocery store next door to us went out of business. My brother, who owns and operates a restaurant in the same building that we are located in, bought the building we all were currently renting in and we moved our retail store into the old grocery store location. We integrated our store now selling chocolates, candy, candy making supplies, baking and cake making supplies, and a small section of groceries. Customers starting asking for pies (the previous owners had made some crumb pies) and that started our journey into baked goods. Almost 20 years later, we now have 5 full time bakers, 4 part time bakers, and 2 full time cake decorators. Baking was never something that I sought out, but became passionate about when I saw a need in our community for quality baked goods at a reasonable price. 

What are your top-selling products/what product do you consider to be your specialty?

Our top items in our cake line include our signature chocolate cake with peanut butter icing and Italian lemon cake. For our top selling pies, our most popular pie is a staple in Pennsylvania Dutch Country - Wet Bottom Shoofly Pie. It is a from scratch pie, rich and molasses-based with a crumbly texture and a sweet, gooey filling. Our other top sellers are lemon meringue, apple crumb and coconut custard. We also make a lot of seasonal items that we are very well known for including apple dumplings, peach cobbler and pumpkin rolls.

What do you see trending in the industry?

We have definitely seen a trend since COVID of smaller weddings. We have dabbled in wedding cakes over the years, but it is not our specialty. We have been getting a lot of orders more recently for small cakes with a variety of desserts, including cupcakes, cookies, donuts and mini pies. We have also recently expanded into offering some of our products on DoorDash and have had some success with using that platform. Customers are willing to pay to have things dropped off at their doorstep instead of coming into the store to pickup items.

How has your RBA membership made a difference in your business?

The RBA has made a huge difference in our business. I am so grateful for a community that is willing to share tips, tricks, recipes and knowledge. Not being formally trained in pastry has been a challenge for me, I have degrees in marketing and business management, but not the background in baking or pastry arts. It has been very benefitable to be able to reach out to other members of the RBA for assistance and attend road shows and learn from other leaders in the industry. Classes at IBIE and the Atlantic Bakery Expo have been extremely valuable sources of knowledge for us over the years, it is especially nice when we can bring our staff to more local shows and classes to get them hands on experience as well.

What are your plans for the bakery in the coming years (expansion, digital, new offerings, etc.)?

I am hoping in the coming years to expand our product line, adding new flavors of pies and cakes. We have had great success with our online ordering system for custom cakes, and I hope to offer more designs on our website in the future. I would love to have a second location but I have no idea how to make those first initial steps and it scares me that I can't be at two places at once.

What do you look for when hiring staff?

When I first started out, I would hire experience over everything else. Now, I really take into consideration when adding to our bakery staff not only experience, but will they fit well into the team that I already have in place. If the answer to the last question is no, then think twice about hiring them. I don't want to disrupt the current dynamic of our bakery since we are in a really positive spot at the moment and I have realized that you can always train someone if they have the right attitude and work ethic.

What would you have done differently in starting your business/what do you wish you could tell your past self when starting your business?

I would have loved to have gone to pastry school to have more knowledge of the industry and the science of baking in general. I would have also told myself that when a team member does want to leave, let them. Don't try to make a better offer or talk them into staying. Once they get to the point where they want a change, you are much better letting them go then trying to hold onto someone that doesn't want to be there or isn't happy. It might be difficult to replace that person, (my bakery manager and lead decorator left two years ago, so I have struggled with this, I talked her into staying two other times and realized that if I would have just let her move on the first time, I would have saved a lot of heartache and headaches), but in the end, it is better for everyone all around.

Interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Retail Bakers of America? Click here.

Current RBA members, email Marlene O’ Connell ( to learn how you can be featured in an upcoming member spotlight.