The sweet scent of cinnamon glazed almonds, pecans and cashews welcomes daily visitors to Franklin’s General Store in the Olde Mistick Village. The smells are just the beginning of a visit that engages all five senses while enjoying all that the store has to offer. Franklin's has a little bit of everything.
On a recent Saturday, the 3,300 square foot store was bustling with young and old perusing the aisles full of books, jars of specialty foods, including seventy-five different flavors of jams and preserves, salad dressing, pickled asparagus, mushrooms, blue cheese stuffed olives and salsa, Yankee Candles, balsam and cedar wood products and the homemade fudge that Owner Jim Holley brags about.
“We have America’s best fudge without a doubt," Holley said. “We make and sell more fudge than any single store east of Pennsylvania. We make about 32,000 lbs of fudge a year,” he said, adding, after a brief pause, “in this one little store.”
Behind the fudge counter Assistant Manager Candy Miesen encourages visitors to taste the treat and experience its deliciousness. "A little bite of our eggnog or chocolate fudge today?" she says to each and every passerby. "We make it here."
Immediately behind her the fudge is being stirred in the large pot, to keep the display case well stocked and fresh.
"We use the best ingredients, possible," Holley said. "We’ve got the best sugars, the best cocoas, all the things that we put in the fudge are the real deal,” he explained. “If it’s cookies and cream, it’s the actual real Oreos. We make eggnog fudge for the flavor of the month, this month, and it has gallons of fresh eggnog in it.”
This store is reminiscent of the general stores of years gone by, with a bit of updating to keep up with the changing times.
“In the original general store you could buy food, you could buy candy, you could buy your saddle soap, your nails to build the barn and all that, but the more modern general store usually is a gift store or food gift store,” Holley explained.
Franklin’s is just that.
“We have a lot of nice gifts,” said Holley. “Prints, calligraphy, watercolors. We have a nice general array of quality, nice gifts, so if you’re not sure what to get you come in our store and you usually can find something for somebody in your family or a friend, relatively inexpensively.”
In 1985, local resident Frank Davis opened Franklin’s. "His mother used to call him Franklin when she was upset with him when he was a little boy, so in honor of his mom he decided on Franklin’s," said Holley.
Holley took over ownership in 2008, making just a few changes to the original store.
"We kept the name, it's a great name for New England," he said. "This store is very well known in Mystic and the area."
The business is a family affair. Holley works alongside his wife, Heike, son, Robert, and daughter, Laura.
For regular customers and visitors, alike, the real appeal is the uniqueness of Franklin’s.
“They don’t find stores like ours in many places, there aren’t a lot of them around, really,” said Holley. “So when they comes in it’s like ‘this is so cool, look at all the neat things we can get!’”