Irene Preston with a selection of Irene's Rescue Boxes ready to be shipped to customers. Photo courtesy Benjamin T. Lambright.
In April, we covered how 77-year-old Irene Preston and recent Burlingame arrival and nonprofit leader Benjamin Lambright were partnering to rescue Burlingame’s 75-year-old Preston’s Candy & Ice Cream.
In addition to updating the website and social media channels, Lambright helped Preston launch a series of “rescue boxes” to raise short-term funds for the business. Irene Preston says that the effort has been overwhelmingly successful and has resulted in the sale of over 700 boxes.
They are confident that the business will now survive through the end of the year, but Lambright says that the shop was weeks away from closing its doors before orders started piling in.
Lambright has also been inspired by the overwhelming amount of community members calling in to volunteer, from kids hoping to pack chocolates with their parents to carpenters offering to make repairs for free. Some former chocolate makers have even come out of retirement to take on long shifts in Preston's kitchen.
Preston's shelves still remain somewhat empty compared to the shop's heyday, when it had around 10 employees constantly producing and selling a vast variety of chocolates and sweets. According to Lambright, high rent, labor and housing costs for employees still make maintaining a chocolate shop on the Peninsula nearly impossible.
Still, Lambright, who sometimes spends over 70 hours a week at the shop (almost entirely unpaid), wants to make sure that Irene Preston can continue selling candy as long as she wants to. "What I didn't want to see was a 77-year-old woman who's given so much to that store not get to go out on her terms," he says.
Now, the shop is encouraging community members to provide sustained support through a monthly subscription box called “Preston’s Forever.” The included treats will rotate and include seasonal choices for holidays like Valentine's Day and Easter.
"We had a wonderful response, and that gave me an opportunity to say that we are going to be open for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. I was really worried whether we would make it or not," says Preston, who offers her thanks to the shop's supporters.
Preston’s Candy & Ice Cream, 1170 Broadway Ave., Burlingame; 650-344-3254. Instagram: @prestonsbroadway.
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