Throughout a long career in hospitality that started with a job at a Greene County resort at 14 and eventually led to cooking at fishing clubs and running mountain lodges, Raelene Bond kept an idea in the back of her head.
“Most jobs I’ve had involved cooking, but my real love has always been baking and desserts,” Bond said. “I’ve always dreamed of having my own shop.”
Next month, after testing her concept and recipes for two years, Bond will throw open the doors of her new venture in the village of Margaretville.
Catskill Candies & Confections specializes in “inventive and whimsical” creations, with a bit of local flair.
Chocolate takes many forms, including the shape of a cow, nestled in crinkled green tissue paper, one of Bond’s nods to local agriculture. Various high peaks in the Catskills loan their names to a line of specialty bars: the Peekamoose is milk chocolate and peanuts, the Hunter Mountain is dark chocolate with mocha almonds. A dollar from every purchase of a paw-shaped chocolate lollipop goes to support the Heart of the Catskills Humane Society in Delhi.
Bond, who has lived just outside of Margaretville for 17 years, is sourcing local ingredients as well, including syrup from Millbrook Maple, as well as local farm eggs, honey and — once the season kicks in — berries.
She produces custom gift baskets including favors for weddings and showers, and supplies a line of snacks to the newly opened Union Grove Distillery just up the road in Arkville. One of her signature items is a “Gnarly Pretzel”: a multi-grain pretzel rod rolled in caramel, dipped in peanuts and covered in chocolate.
With help from her husband Rob, Bond transformed the former Bed & Bath Shoppe space, which had been sitting empty for a couple of years. The retail half of the new shop is decorated in lavender and lime green. The rear is outfitted as a full commercial kitchen, where Bond will produce her candies, as well as a selection of baked goods such as lemon bars, peanut butter bars and hand pies.
Catskill Candies & Confections already has a dedicated following, built up at local markets such as the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market, where she launched a booth in 2015, along with holiday markets such as Craftskills in Bovina. Her products are also for sale at other local retailers, such as the Catskill Mountain Artisan Guild in Margaretville and Hometown Crafts in Grand Gorge. Bond has also produced a variety of special order items for holidays, such as Easter baskets and Valentine’s Day assortments.
The store’s grand opening is scheduled for May 14, to coincide with Main Street Margaretville’s Spring on Main street fair, which will showcase local arts and crafts, a baking contest and music from Ben Rounds.
Community support for her lifelong dream has been very encouraging, Bond said, noting other new developments on Main Street such as this winter’s debut of Stick in the Mud, a local foods store and cafe just across the street.
“There’s a lot of energy in Margaretville right now,” Bond said. “It’s really exciting.”
Find Catskill Candies & Confections at 746 Main St., Margaretville, beginning May 14. Hours are tentatively set at Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.