More Than Just Candy 

 

The first thing you see when entering the Mountain Man store on Main Street in Elizabeth, beyond the knickknacks and colorful candies, is an immense, old-fashioned mirrored saloon bar stretching across the back of the shop. It tends to make people’s jaws drop and occupied a ten minute discussion with the owner, Dalynn Siewert, the last time I dropped in to buy a bag of chocolate-caramel candy.

 

The bar is an authentic antique that makes you feel like you stepped into a western, but as interesting as its history may be, the store owners are even more intriguing.
 

I tracked down Dalynn’s wife Tammy for an interview and asked her how long they’ve been in the candy business. “We’ve been connected with Mountain Man since 1994, when we moved to Colorado,” she said. “We went to college with Mike Conner, the now Vice President of Mountain Man, and his wife Gretchen.” After graduation, they went on to jobs in Alaska, but remained in contact with the Conners. After four years in Anchorage, Mike asked Dalynn to come to Colorado and work at the plant in Parker. “He still works there, now in his 20th year,” she adds with a smile; “that is his ‘day job,’ and I work at the store during the week. On the weekends, one or both of us are at the store.”
 

Their decision to open up shop in Elizabeth was motivated through their shared love of a small town atmosphere, inspired by their desire to raise their children in a rural community. “I was born in Detroit, Michigan, but at the age of 8, my family moved out to a little town in the country similar in size to Elizabeth,” Tammy said. “Dalynn is from a farm and ranch in South Dakota, where you have to drive a half hour to get to a town as big as Elizabeth. We lived in Aurora when we first moved to Colorado, but knew that we wanted to raise our kids in the country. After searching, we found Elizabeth, and love it here. We moved here in 2002, when our girls were 3 and 7. When I first took them to the library here on Main Street, my older daughter commented on what a great Mountain Man store the building would make!”
 

The idea stuck and after running a store in Kiowa for a year and a half, they relocated into the coveted building when the library moved to its new facilities. Lest anyone make the mistake of thinking it is just a candy store, I dare them to step inside. Certainly, there is candy but also gift items ranging from eclectic figurines to stuffed animals. When asked what makes her business unusual, Tammy says, “We try to highlight the historical building by offering products that bring back memories of an old time General store, and also try to find giftware that complements the western lifestyle.”
 

As someone with a decided sweet tooth, I couldn’t help asking what her favorite candy is. She said, “One of my favorite candies is old-fashioned, and only offered at Christmastime: Chocolate Sponge candy. It is also known as Honeycomb, Sea Foam, or Fairy Food, depending on what part of the country you’re in. It has caramelized sugar center that is crunchy when you bite into it, but then melts in your mouth, covered in milk or dark chocolate; dark chocolate is the best!”
 

Sounds like something I might have to try out. How about you? —CB