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Wockenfuss Candies moving into new Parkville home

How sweet it is.

That’s what neighbors in Parkville are saying now that the new Wockenfuss Homemade Candies has opened in an abandoned discount outlet near Northern Parkway and Chesley Avenue. A small U.S. Post Office is also stationed in the back of the store.

“We have had customers coming in the whole time from the neighborhood,” said owner Paul Wockenfuss on Wednesday, reporting on business in the first week. “I think the neighborhood was in great fear that this was going to be a nightclub.

“When they found out it was a candy story, they were just thrilled.”

Paul Wockenfuss

Walking in, patrons are greeted by the trays of foil-covered Santas, and snowmen are stacked neatly next to chocolate covered nuts, cherries and maple crèmes. Truffles with decorative tops line the counter, alongside candy canes, gummy bears and jelly beans.

The 24,000-square-foot brick building is double the size of the old Wockenfuss Candies store on Belair Road, about a mile away. The truffles, assorted chocolates, dipped nuts, and other delights will continue to be made at the Belair Road plant through Christmas, he said, because of the holiday crush.

Early next year, though, the yummy chocolates will be made in the new plant, located in ample space behind the storefront.

Wockenfuss makes about 160,000 pounds of candy each year. The confectioner also has stores in Bel Air, White Marsh, Columbia and Ocean City.

The store started in 1915 when Charles Herman Wockenfuss first made candies in a small kitchen in Baltimore. His son, Herman, sold candies from a rowhouse at 5420 Belair Rd. beginning in 1946. He made the sweets in the basement, Wockenfuss said. A storefront was opened there in 1956.

Now comes the big expansion. Wockenfuss, who took over the business 12 years ago, has three daughters who are all involved as well, making the business a charming four-generation legacy.

He said Wednesday that he had searched for a bigger space for a decade and was delighted to find an available, vacant building close to the current shop, which is closed.

He expressed his loyalty to his Baltimore roots.

“I wanted to stay in the city,” he explained. “The city has about 600,000 people — a tremendous market. And the city’s been good to us.”

The doors open each weekday at 8 a.m. – and, yes, that includes the post office – a novelty these days when other branches open at 11 a.m.

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The Woman’s Industrial Exchange plans to reopen its tearoom around Dec. 1.

This place, located at 333 N. Charles St., is so much more than the best address in town to get a sock monkey or a hand-smocked dress.

The establishment first opened 130 years ago as a venue for women to sell handmade goods to help support their families. Much of the Exchange is still dedicated to that. In addition, regular classes are held to teach crafting, sewing and knitting techniques. A handmade holiday bazaar is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 11.

The tearoom, located in the back of the Exchange, used to serve comfort food like bacon-wrapped meatloaf, chicken potpies, mashed potatoes, baked fish, chicken salad and, of course, tomato aspic. It closed in 2002, and other food vendors have set up shop there since.

Starting this week, Irene Smith, a city resident who runs a soup food truck, will reopen the tearoom and has pledged to restore it to its homey grandeur.

Dining tables have been customized by Smith with photos and text that honor famous Maryland women like author Laura Lippman (right), Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Harriett Tubman. The walls are painted hot pink to accent the white wainscoting. Bold, yet feminine.

Waitresses won’t wear the starched uniforms of past Exchange servers. Instead, they will wear blue jeans, a black shirt and a customized apron, created by a group of local nonprofit crafters, Smith said.

“You will be served by the sassiest mothers I know,” she recently wrote in an email. “You will sit seeped in the history of famous and average women who have triumphed in the home, work and communities. We will celebrate home economics and the power of positive thinking.”

A kick-starter challenge to raise $10,000 to help Smith’s project was successful as 131 donors pledged $10,741. Smith was ecstatic on Wednesday about the support.

“This will soon become a place to honor women in Baltimore history,” she said, of the décor at the Exchange. “There is no other place like it.”

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Battelle National Biodefense Institute recently signed a four-year lease for 11,719 square feet at 110 Thomas Johnson Dr. in Frederick.

Battelle is downsizing from 29,462 square feet.  Leasing company McShea & Co. Inc. brokered deal for landlord Corporate Office Properties Trust.

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The Home Builders Association of Maryland broke ground this week for a new headquarters in Fulton’s Maple Lawn commercial district.

The 10,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed in 2012 and will be called the Maryland Center for Housing at Maple Lawn and will house the organization’s nonprofit division, the Building Industries Foundation.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by nearly 100 people including Building Industries Foundation President Kevin Carney, Community Builders’ Foundation Chairperson Chris Rachuba and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

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The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development will host a forum called Contract Connections on Dec. 5 at the Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City. The forum is aimed at linking Maryland’s business owners with billions in federal procurement dollars awarded yearly by federal agencies, military commands and prime contractors.
David H. Ehrenwerth, regional administrator of the federal General Services Administration, will be a speaker. The event begins at 7:30 a.m. Registration is $75 per person and includes a continental breakfast, lunch and beverages throughout the day.

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TIDBITS: Cellular Sales, a large Verizon wireless retailer, recently opened a new store at 1450 Ritchie Highway in Arnold. Cellular Sales, an 18-year-old company, operates eight retail locations in Maryland and nearly 500 stores across the U.S.  … The Eliz Beauty Salon recently opened a 1,160-square-foot shop in the Columbia Market Place at 9400 Snowden River Parkway, Suite 116. Merritt Properties LLC is the landlord. … New owners of the Senator Theatre report the historic movie house in Baltimore is preparing to undergo renovations next year. Financing and design plans are being worked out.