At Schimpff’s Confectionery, candy is the family business.
Warren and Jill Schimpff have been making candy for years now. Each day they wake up in their apartment, conveniently located right above their family owned candy shop Schimpff’s Confectionery and head to work.
Their day consists of red hot candy making demonstrations, the shop’s signature creation. They give tours of their vintage shop and candy memorabilia museum, located in Jeffersonville, Indiana, to crowds of fascinated tourists. They feed meals and bags of chocolate treats to hungry locals.
Schimpff’s Confectionery has been serving up homemade candy, treats and hot meals since 1891. Warren and Jill are the third generation of Schimpff’s to own the shop.
The confectionery is a candy lovers dream. Picture your local soda shop, candy store, museum and all-around community hang out wrapped into one. When you enter, the aroma of freshly made cinnamon red hot candies welcomes you, a sure sign you’re at Schimpff’s. Rows and rows of handmade chocolates and toffees line the glass display boxes.
Their website boasts an extensive list of recognitions. It has been listed in “Louisville Business First” as one of the area's top 20 for-profit attractions and national media such as The Food Network, The History Channel/“Modern Marvels” and Paula Deen have focused their attention on Schimpff’s.
The couple, Warren, 76, and Jill, 74, went to school all their lives together and started dating when they went to their respective universities. Warren has a PhD in environmental chemistry from the University of Michigan. He comes from a family of chemists, his mother and father both working in the field.
“It’s a big family of chemists,” Jill said. “They’re all interested in how things work.”
Warren said he peaked an interest in candy making and antique candy making machinery in his teenage years when he would visit the shop during the holidays.
“I fell in love with the antique equipment and never gave it up,” Warren said. “After Jill and I got our degrees, we spent a year and a half in Sweden. I did a post doc there and we came back and my aunt invited us to come spend time at the candy store while we were looking for jobs.”
Warren’s aunt and uncle, Catherine and Sonny Schimpff, ran the shop until they passed away in the late 80s. Catherine had encouraged Warren and Jill to help them at the confectionery upon their return from Sweden.
“Warren’s aunt said ‘You’re just sitting on your dumps writing resumes? You can come down here and help us and be useful,’ ” Jill said.
And useful the Schimpffs were. They began helping with the candy making process in further detail, as Warren became increasingly fascinated with the antique machinery. The couple bought the shop in its 99th year to try and preserve the legacy their previous family members built.
“We just couldn’t see it not be around,” Warren said. “So we bought the business to keep it in the family and keep history alive. Keep community history alive. For 10 years, we commuted back and forth from California to keep the business going.”
Generations of families from the Louisville area have been coming to Schimpff’s, starting from when they were children to now going to visit with their own grandchildren. Local Brent Morris began visiting Schimpff’s when he was a child.
“We had my grandson’s ninth birthday here on Tuesday,” Morris said. “It was a great time. The shop has made an impact on this community just by being here. It’s a nice place to come in and just browse around. There’s tons of interesting stuff in the museum.”
Meredith Shephard, 17, is a candy maker at Schimpff’s. Her and her sisters are triplets, part of the sixth generation of Schimpffs working at the shop. She said she enjoys making chocolates on her spring break.
“I like making derby mints the best,” Shephard said. “I’ve been coming around here for a long time. People like that its traditional and older. A lot of our stuff is handmade and people can tell through our demos.”
Schimpff’s brings in visitors from all around the U.S. and the globe, some as far as Ecuador. “They come from all over,” Jill said.
Warren and Jill said they’re grateful they don’t work office jobs sitting at a desk all day. “There aren’t too many people who have jobs where on a daily basis they get thanks,” Jill said.
Steve Shephard, father of the triplets who work at the shop, will be taking over for Warren and Jill once they retire as owners. The sweet traditions at Schimpff’s don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Warren said, “We wanted to see if we could have an effect on the community by keeping the family business going, and it’s obvious we have had an effect.”
347 Spring Street
Jeffersonville, Indiana 47130
Monday to Saturday:
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.