Sweet second act
For the fun of it, a cop and his wife buy Joy Lyn’s Candies—and they’re still smiling eight years later
Bill Hartley likes to say he traded his bullet-proof vest for an apron. That’s a good swap on its face, let alone the particulars behind it.
Hartley spent 29 years as a police officer. First he worked in San Jose, at a time when cops were called “pigs” by perps and neighbors alike. He and his wife, Pam, moved to Paradise in 1981, after the town incorporated and formed a police force.
The decades on the streets took their toll—he got full retirement after undergoing neck surgery and his doctor advising that a return to duty was “not a good idea.” Pam had her share of stress, too, working in special education and the administrative office of the Paradise school district.
So when the owner of Joy Lyn’s Candies told Pam she was thinking of selling the chocolate-making business, the Hartleys saw a golden opportunity.
“I love chocolate, and I love to cook,” Pam said. “I thought, ‘I can do this!’ “
With that, they took money out of Bill’s retirement account and leaped into the candy business.
“It was a calculated risk,” Bill explained. “We knew it was a business with a good name. We knew our values and how we work together. We knew we’d make it work …”
“We had to,” Pam injected.
Joy Lyn’s Candies began in 1969 in the Bille Road home that still houses the business. The Hartleys are the fourth owners; they bought in eight years ago, getting the recipe book, the building (no longer a residence) and the moniker (derived from the middle names of the founder’s daughters)—as well as eight months of tutoring.
They had a lot to learn. Joy Lyn’s makes all the crèmes, caramels and other fillings from scratch using vintage equipment. Copper kettles date to the turn of the century—the 20th, that is. The mixer was patented in 1919; the crème beater predates World War II.
“We kind of enjoy doing things the old-fashioned way,” Bill said. “It adds flair to the business.”
That’s a big reason why the Hartleys don’t have grand plans for growth. They remodeled three years ago to make the shop bigger, add storage and give themselves more elbow room in the factory. To expand, they’d either have to move or add a second shift, and in either case they’d have to update their machinery.
“All of a sudden it starts looking like a job instead of a fun place to work,” Bill said. So the Hartleys are content with their “modest income” from sales in the shop, local events and whoever finds them online.
“This isn’t a business you could ever get rich doing unless you had a grandiose plan of franchising or adding stores,” Bill said. “That wasn’t in our plan, to make a lot of money. We’re fortunate to have my retirement to get us through the summer months when we aren’t open; we’ve been able to use this money to travel.”
They’re on their feet 12 hours a day, six days a week … “and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Bill declared. “You have to work hard to be positive as a police officer—not in the chocolate business!”