The candy doesn’t come off a conveyor belt at Garza’s Goodies Chocolates & Confections, a family-owned sweets shops in Kansas City’s Waldo neighborhood.
Owners Richard and Heather Garza, along with their son, Damon, take pride in producing chocolates, caramels, baked goods and other treats right in their store’s kitchen. It all goes back to their three-word motto: love, craftsmanship, flavor.
They don’t want to sell mass-produced chocolate that looks pretty but doesn’t deliver a delicious taste. And the love?
“Passion waxes and wanes,” Richard Garza said. “Love is a commitment. We’re here for the long haul, until they drag us out, kicking and screaming.”
The Garzas, who’ve been in business since 2012, took a circuitous path to entrepreneurship. They started making candy as Christmas gifts because, at the time, they lived mostly on disability benefits. (Richard uses a wheelchair while Heather is visually impaired.)
“Living on $900 a month put even the Dollar Store out of reach for Christmas presents,” he said.
Eventually, when they were living in Florida, they started selling their goodies at church bake sales—and made hundreds of dollars.
“We brought what we made, and ours sold out,” Richard Garza said. “The lady who ran the bake sale said, ‘We’re having a craft sale next weekend, and you’ll be here because we’ve already paid for your table.’”
That early success gave them the encouragement they needed to open a storefront in 2012 after they moved back to Kansas City.
Garza’s Goodies recently relocated to 80th and Wornall, a few blocks north of their old location. The new space is larger—about 2,400 square feet compared to 1,750 square feet previously—and it offers better visibility.
“Bigger space was nice,” Richard Garza said. “Really, we wanted greater visibility. Because even up to the week that we closed, we were still getting people telling us ‘we didn’t know you were here.’”
More importantly, the storefront has a larger seating area and separate workspaces for their candy and their baked goods. Candy does better in low humidity, while baked goods need a little moisture in the air.
“A batch of candy, if we just use the frame and the cutter that we have, takes about three hours from beginning to end,” Richard Garza said. “If we have to scoop it, it can add a half an hour to an hour to that.”
Not that they mind. Doing things by hand is a big part of the philosophy at Garza’s Goodies. Their one concession to more modern technology: a tempering machine. Otherwise, it takes a person about 45 minutes to stand and whisk a batch of chocolate.
“Basically, like tempering glass, it makes it brittle,” Richard Garza said. “If you don’t temper chocolate, it’s just soft and bendable, pliable.”
Heather Garza is the business’s confectionary genius, he said. The oldest of six, she grew up in a family where she learned to cook and later worked in the food business. She and Richard also took formal training.
“My wife took it so she could get a certificate that said she knew what she was doing to begin with,” Richard Garza said. “I apparently took it so I could learn to coat her shoes in chocolate.”
Originally, the Garzas planned to sell only chocolates at the store, but customer interest has led them to add other products, too.
“People kept coming in with requests,” Richard Garza said. “‘Oh, can you do cakes, can you do cupcakes?’ So my wife instituted a three-request rule. If three separate customers ask for it on three separate occasions, then we’ll look into it.”
In the neighborhood? Be sure to try out the quarter-pound brownies. Instead of being baked in a single 9-by-13-inch pan, each brownie is fixed in its own holder, sort of like a muffin pan.
“We bake them in a pan that keeps them crispy all the way around, on each individual one,” Richard Garza said. “And with their size and how much chocolate we put in the middle, it stays fudgy on the inside.”