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N.D. store known for selling tons of holiday candy

A boy checks out the Christmas candy selection at J-Mart in Pisek, N.D. The store expects to sell four and a quarter tons of candy this holiday season. (Forum News Service )

By Cynthia Johnson, Forum News Service

PISEK, N.D. — The holidays are a sweet time for the J-Mart Store here, where they usually sell more than four tons of Christmas candy each year.

Aileen and Alexander Jelinek started the grocery store after Alexander came back from fighting World War II, said Francis Jelinek, their son and the store’s current owner.

But over the years, J-Mart has become well-known for its candy.

Jelinek said it started out with one or two boxes of crème drops and just expanded over time. This year the store has stocked close to four and a quarter tons of candy.

J-Mart sells 66 different kinds of chocolates, jellies and hard nuts — a variety that’s shocking for some, Jelinek said.

“The variety they have, oh my goodness,” said Doris Karas, a customer from Lakota. “You just have to look and just have to come and find out for yourself what it’s all about.”

Jelinek prepares months in advance, ordering the candy in June.

“We usually get it the last week in October and this year we had some variety that came a little bit late,” he said.

J-mart is far from a small-town secret. People travel for hours to get their Christmas candy here.

“Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, a lot from Cavalier, Park River, Devils Lake,” Jelinek said.

“So many people treasure this as their getaway, being able to pick up the old-fashion kind of candy that their grandparents used to have,” store employee Cynthia Schiernbeck said. “It’s family tradition.”

“It’s just a fun experience,” Karas said. “We always come here. This is kind of our tradition that we do.”

Regular customers like her come in and already know their favorite kinds of candy.

“First you really have to look it over and see which one it is or otherwise you’ve got more candy than you really need,” Karas said.

With candy so sweet, Jelinek said he expects it to be all gone by mid-December. Next year, he said, he expects to sell four and half tons.