Aplets and Cotlets candy company orders surge after closure announcement
Liberty Orchards Company is shutting its doors after more than 100 years
CASHMERE, Wash. — Orders for Aplets & Cotlets have been rolling in since Liberty Orchards Company announced it would closing for good this summer.
“We’ve had a surge in our online business since we announced our closing,” said Greg Taylor, President of Liberty Orchards Company. “People are stocking up, but we’ll get the stock level back up and be able to serve people.”
The company has been so overwhelmed with the demand for its products that they will not be taking orders for several days to give them enough time to catch up.
The Pacific Northwest-based company has been in business for more than 100 years. It was founded in 1920 by two Armenian immigrants, Mark Balaban and Armen Tertsagian.
“They didn’t know each other in the old country but it turned out that they met in Seattle, staying at the YMCA on the same night,” Taylor said. “They met, developed a friendship, went into business. Those businesses failed.”
Taylor said the pair started with an Armenian restaurant and then a yogurt business, both of which were unsuccessful.
“They made a trip to this part of the state for some reason and they were struck by how much it reminded them of their home country,” Taylor said. “The dry hills, the fruit orchards, the sunny climate. Then they decided to go into the apple business.”
Balaban and Tertsagian bought a small apple orchard near Cashmere and used their surplus of fruit to create Aplets, an apple and walnut confection based on Locoum, a famous Near East candy known as Turkish Delight. Just a few years later, they introduced Cotlets, made of apricots and walnuts.
Taylor said he’s proud of the family business: its history, its people and its products. He’s worked at Liberty Orchards Company for 45 years and about three years ago, the family decided it was time to sell the business.
“There’s been a fair amount of interest in our company, in our brand and we got into serious negotiations with a couple of potential buyers, but we haven’t been able to put together a deal,” Taylor said. “Reluctantly, we’ve decided that it’s time to close the doors.”
The pandemic was hard on the business from an operating standpoint, but Taylor said it was even harder on the potential market for the company.
“It was a terrible climate to try and sell a business in,” Taylor said. “We were in good discussions with several prospective buyers a year ago at this time when the pandemic hit and they immediately lost interest.”
Taylor said they’re still hoping to find a buyer for the whole business, one who would be willing to keep the operation based in Cashmere, where it’s been for more than 100 years.
“If there isn’t a buyer for the whole business, there is a good possibility that there could be a buyer for the brands and recipes,” Taylor said.
The company will close operations by June, but plans to continue making and selling candy until then. Taylor said their employees have decided to stick with them until that happens.
“The emotions are all over the map,” Taylor said. “We’ve had tremendous loyalty from our core group of employees; they’re disappointed.”
Taylor said if the company closes for good, some employees will have to find new jobs and others will be headed for an early retirement.
“Some people are having a hard time holding back tears and other people are taking it kind of in stride, but everybody that I’ve talked to has agreed to stay on,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he’s grateful for the community support and loyal customers who have stood by them over the years.
“We’d appreciate it if people keep buying our product until there isn’t any more on the shelves,” Taylor said.
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