Peruse any candy aisle at the grocery or holiday store and you’ll find shelves upon shelves of nuts in various combinations—chocolate covered, clusters, cinnamon sprinkled, shelled, un-shelled, trail mixes, tins with who-knows-what inside.
But peruse the storefront or fair booths of Simply Nuts & More and you won’t find shelves stacked with who-knows-what-kind-of-nuts that have been there for who-knows-how-long. You’ll find only the freshest variety of nuts, chocolates and custom tins. “Freshness is the main ingredient,” owner Chris Carney says. “People try our stuff … and they keep coming back because they know they won’t find anything like it in the store.”
Simply Nuts & More has been family owned and operated for 28 years. The idea for the business didn’t start with grandma’s secret family recipe, but rather when Carney was demonstrating and selling a completely different product at home, sport and art shows. After spending countless hours at shows like these, Carney realized there was never anything good to eat there. Instead of succumbing to the deep-fried paradise that cornered the market at many of the shows, he devised a company to improve the food scene.
Now Carney, his family and employees attend similar shows, but with an entirely different product to sell. Craft shows, farmers markets, the State Fair, home shows, boat shows, sport shows and more keep Simply Nuts busy throughout the year, not to mention the ever-popular holiday gift market. Carney estimates about 50-60 percent of Simply Nuts’ business comes from shows and the rest from gift tins and boxes and custom holiday orders. “We have a really devoted clientele that we’ve built up over the years,” Carney says.
The business started out of Carney’s garage and grew to booths at several local fairs and shows before acquiring its first physical space in downtown Excelsior, where they were located for 10 years. The shop’s current location in Chanhassen serves as warehouse space where Simply Nuts packages and ships custom orders.
These custom orders make up about 70 percent of their holiday business, Carney says. Some of their hottest sellers (and some of Carney’s personal favorites) include butter toffee peanuts—better known in the store as “secret peanuts”—pecan pralines, milk chocolate double dipped peanuts, cranberry trail mix and honey-roasted cashews.
The space’s small storefront is open in November and December for the holiday season, but what’s on display on their shelves is mostly to give the customers an idea of what Simply Nuts has to offer. “Everything is roasted within the week,” Carney says. “It doesn’t sit on the shelf like you have in the store.”
Carney says many customers come in for nuts by the pound for holiday gifts, but a good portion of product is packaged in personalized boxes and tins for companies and businesses in the area. With its own in-house laser engraving machine, Simply Nuts has the ability to personalize holiday tins and handmade wooden boxes with names and company logos.
Carney’s two children, Daniel and Alexa, have been working in the shop since they were old enough to make change. “I think a big thing I’ve learned is that customer service is key, especially to a small business,” says Daniel, 24. “ … A lot of what we do is word of mouth and keeping that quality assurance up.”
-Simply Nuts & More’s storefront is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily throughout the holiday season. 7801 Park Drive, Ste. E, Chanhassen.