Mother and daughter purchase Cero’s Candies

ceros

WICHITA — A mother and daughter with MBAs and a love of sweets are the new owners of Cero’s Candies.

Pam Bishop and her daughter, Darcy Bishop, purchased the 125-year-old business for an undisclosed price.

“I’m a longtime customer of Cero’s,” Pam Bishop says. “It was important to me to keep Cero’s alive and healthy.”

In September, the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, which bought the business from the Cero family in 2000, announced it was looking for a buyer.

The nonprofit association has used the business to train and employ those with severe and persistent mental illnesses.

Other area employers are more willing to hire those with mental illnesses now, former Cero’s general manager Marni Eickelman said when announcing the business would be for sale.

Pam Bishop is an accountant who spent the last 22 years at Cessna Aircraft, where she retired in September.

Darcy Bishop has managed food service industries in Florida and now works at Cessna, though she’s been laid off and her last day is Dec. 10.

The layoff isn’t the reason for the business purchase, though.

“We actually started going down this path before,” Pam Bishop says. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”

So has her daughter.

“One of my hobbies is candy making and cookies, sweet breads — things along those lines,” Darcy Bishop says. “I saw it as an opportunity to combine my background in manufacturing and restaurant management and my hobby.”

She’s been shopping at Cero’s most of her life.

“Everyone’s very friendly, and it’s a happy place to be,” Darcy Bishop says. “I always got smiles when I came in as a customer.”

She may expand beyond a candy line to cookies or other goodies.

“We’ll be adding new flavors and things like that in the future,” Pam Bishop says.

She says the Cero’s favorites will remain, though.

“We’ve hired the employees who were here before. We’re pretty much keeping everything the same.”

Steve Fischer of VR Business Brokers, which handled the sale, says there was incredible interest from potential Cero’s buyers.

“The outpouring and the calls was just phenomenal,” he says.

“No doubt there’s going to be some people upset,” Fischer says of those who didn’t get to buy the business.

He says the Bishops made sense as the new owners for a lot of reasons.

“When you meet them you’ll know,” Fischer says. “They’re a family. . . . Cero’s is a longtime family-held business that’s going back to being run by a family.”

He says the Bishops bought Cero’s not merely as an investment but as an opportunity.

“I think the people at the Mental Health Association really felt like Cero’s was really going to be in good hands.”