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At Josh Early, chocolate has been in the family for five generations. In the early twentieth century, Josh Early III sold chocolate wholesale with a partner; his grandson, Josh Early V and his wife, Marge, first opened a candy store in Reading, and moved to Allentown in 1961. Amy Barnett, Josh III’s great-great granddaughter, grew up hearing stories of those early days—their house was next door, so if a customer came while she was making dinner, Marge would walk over to wait on them—and watching generations of her family create and sell sweet confections.
Josh V’s vision for his business was clear. Work hard. Use quality ingredients, and give the customer a quality experience. Support the little guy; buy from other local businesses. There’s a “hierarchy of experience,” says Amy, “you know the go-to people” for certain tasks, but the organizational structure is flat. That’s another part of the Josh Early philosophy: “don’t ask anyone to do what you wouldn’t do yourself.”
And today, because of the solid, quality-focused business her grandparents built—“working, literally, side by side all their lives”—Josh Early Candies does good in the community. For over a decade, they’ve raised money for local women’s health non-profit the Women’s 5K Classic, and are involved with the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living and the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley.
Working hard, staying humble, making good quality products, and doing good in the world. They may not sound like big ideas, because they’re so simple. But focusing on the little things—a delectable bite of chocolate, a business grown and tended with and like family—can have the biggest, sweetest rewards.