While some people think you shouldn’t mess with success, especially a 114-year-old success, it’s always good to keep an open mind.
Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy and Fudge, a third-generation, family-owned business in Ocean City, N.J., has been twisting the old with the new as it uses a robust social media presence to innovate and stretch a seasonal business, while staying true to its roots.
Its Twisted Taffy flavors, for instance, came from an experiment the company had tried with some of its more kid-centric flavors. “We started with combining two flavors,” Meryl Vangelov, owner of Shriver’s, told CNBC’s Squawk Box. Then, about two years ago, she said, “Why not add some more?” Now, Shriver’s Twisted Taffy comes in flavors such as Neopolitan Blownapart, a combination of Shriver’s most popular flavors: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
Innovation is an important part of its business, said Shriver.
“We keep coming up with new ideas, new flavors. We ask our customers [what they want], we get a lot of feedback from Facebook,” she said. “We try to get a good idea about what people want to taste and we try to get it to them.”
Another recent change: The store, located on the boardwalk in Ocean City, is now open year-round. “We used to close down in the winter,” said Shriver. And, while it would be nice to take several months off in the winter, she said, “We’ve been staying open longer every year. Last year was the first time we stayed open all year.”
Successful in part because of an unseasonably warm winter that brought more people into the store, the company has also benefited from a robust web site that has people ordering their favorite flavors throughout the year. While summer remains Shriver’s biggest season, Christmas is a close second. That also allows Shriver’s to keep 10 employees on staff, even in the colder months. The staff balloons to 100 in the summer.
New regulations, too, could change how the business operates. For instance, the recent ruling on theaffordable health-care actcould mean a change in how it hires, but for Shriver, maintaining a good relationship with employees has always been a priority. “We’ve always tried to give our employees great benefits,” she said. “If we have to do it for 100, it might change our tune a bit, but for the most part, we want to give our employees good benefits.”
For now, though, she’s just looking forward to another successful season on the boardwalk, twisting together more unusual flavors.