By Savanah Mandeville • Photos by Tera Miller

If you’ve been to the Candy House in Joplin sometime in the last 40 years, there’s a good chance you were greeted with a smile by Rose Carlile.

On October 15, Rose will celebrate 40 years at Candy House Gourmet in Joplin.

“I’ve loved the Candy House from the minute I walked in the door,” she said. “It’s just my niche in life. I never thought about getting another job.”

Most Joplinites probably remember Candy House Gourmet, located at 510 Kentucky Ave., in Joplin, as Richardson’s Candy House, a quaint rock cottage located just south of town in Redings Mill.

It was at Richardson’s Candy House Rose worked her first day in 1980.

“I started just as temporary Christmas help for that year. I had two young kids and had just moved down to that area. We lived about four minutes away from the Candy House, and I needed to pick up a little money for the holidays.”

After Christmas, Don Richardson asked Rose if she wanted to stay on part-time and, soon thereafter, she became the first full-time employee of the Candy House. She went on to serve as the retail manager for over 30 years.

“It was a fun, hopping place. A unique place. People loved going down there and making it a destination,” she said. “I have a lot of good memories there, and I love hearing memories customers have from growing up with Redings Mill.”

Today, Rose is the unofficial face of Candy House Gourmet and a friend to all who visit.

“I’ve developed a lot of close friends here over the years. In some cases, I’m seeing third and fourth generations come in. And it makes my job easier that people are always in a good mood when they’re here, even at holiday times. You can get grumpy customers at Walmart, but we have very, very few crabby customers.”

Rose is a chocolate connoisseur to boot. She can tell by taste alone a chocolate’s grade of quality and whether it contains artificial preservatives.

“I’ve travelled all over and when I travel, I’m always interested in the local candy shops. I can walk inside and know immediately if it’s quality chocolate or not. I’ve tried chocolate all over the world and it doesn’t come close to ours. We have a purer, smoother taste.”

Over the years, Rose has stayed with the Candy House through ownership changes, the move to downtown Joplin and numerous busy seasons.

“Christmas is the longest busy season. Valentine’s is the craziest,” she said.

“Especially Valentine’s Day when the guys can’t go home without getting something,” she added with a laugh. “It’s nothing but pickups and cowboy hats on February 13.”

She has seen changing trends like the rise in popularity of dark chocolate after its touted health benefits; and she’s seen things stay the same: English toffee and caramel pecan turtles have always been the top sellers.

They say fate finds us, not the other way around. Back on October 15, 1980, Rose probably wouldn’t have guessed her part-time job would blossom into a lifelong passion, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I keep thinking I’ll be ready to retire, but every time I have a few days off, I’m always ready to come back,” she said. “So, I don’t know when I’ll retire, but I do know that for the last 40 years, this has been a great place to work.”