“We are all very much addicted to chocolate,” Nancy Curl exclaimed, as she motioned toward the beautifully wrapped gourmet candies on the table next to her.
As the owner of Decatur’s Morgan Price Candy Company, Nancy is a self-proclaimed chocoholic. She also shares another connection to the confection on which she’s built her business – an unlikely journey.
Most never consider that their piece of chocolate candy began as a bean on a tree. And Nancy Curl never dreamed her banking career would lead her to owning and operating a candy store.
“I’d always thought, if I were to open my own business, it would be in fashion, not candy. But I love this. It just fits,” she added.
Nancy graduated from the University of Alabama in 1972, and at the time, was one of the few women in the College of Commerce and Business Administration. With a degree in marketing and a concentration in retailing, she studied under the renowned UA professor and icon in the retail industry, Morris Mayer.
“Even though I left school and went into banking, I am glad I picked that major. The mentors I had, especially Dr. Mayer, were instrumental in my professional life,” said Nancy.
After decades of a successful career in the banking industry, Nancy retired in 2006.
With her daughter nearing high school graduation, she found herself with extra time on her hands. Nancy started working part-time and holidays for Mary Morgan at Morgan Price Candy Company – a store she frequented for chocolate and gifts.
Opportunity Crops Up
Sisters Mary Morgan and Margaret Price founded the business in 1987, making candy out of Mary’s home and selling via mail order. While Margaret left the business soon after, Mary went on to grow it into a successful local candy store and gift shop.
Armed with their father’s praline recipe, Mary made her mark in Decatur selling those famous pralines, as well as peanut brittle and English toffee for nearly 23 years.
When Mary was ready to retire, Nancy couldn’t stand the thought of losing the hometown treasure.
“Small businesses were so important to me, especially this one. It was just such a huge part of Decatur,” Nancy said.
“People here were proud to purchase something made in their community. Someone had to step up and save it, and I knew that person was me.”
Changes Yield Success
In July 2010, Nancy bought the business as well as an existing building on Sixth Avenue in Decatur. After three months of remodeling and renovating the space, Nancy moved
Morgan Price Candy Company there and opened on Oct. 25 of the same year.
That new location, she says, offered greater visibility and helped her expand her customer base and grow her business.
This marks Nancy’s eighth year as the owner of Morgan Price. While the original chocolate recipes, including the still popular English toffee, haven’t changed since she took over the business, Nancy has added more than 30 new types of candies – including two of her bestsellers – Angel Bites and Heavenly Bits.
Nancy also extended the hours, staying open later in the evenings and opening on Saturdays as well, to accommodate those who work. The store’s open footprint allows for a large gift shop selection as well as the chance for customers to watch the gourmet candies being made in the kitchen.
The Future Is Sweet
Today, Morgan Price Candy has customers nationwide and provides a fun place to visit and shop when visiting North Alabama.
The store’s English toffee is also on the list of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.”
While Nancy’s journey to candy store owner was somewhat unlikely – it also makes perfect sense. Owning the business has allowed her to combine her retailing education, banking expertise and love for people and her community.
“I love spending my days here. We all say, we love working here because we feel like everyone leaves happy. And not just that … happy with chocolate!” she said.
She plans to continue offering the same old-fashioned quality and service Mary Morgan started more than 30 years ago.
Story and Photos by Melissa Johnson Warnke.