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CANDY MAN SWEET ON HIS WORK

Thomas Judd is probably responsible for half the cavities in St. George.

"I've been handing candy out of here since I was a little kid," Judd said. "That's how long I've been here."Except for a four-year absence, Judd, 73, has worked at Judd's Store his whole life. He's swept the floors, washed the dishes and stocked the shelves.

How about a soda? Want a candy bar? The smiling face behind the counter has never tired of asking. It's still a family business, even though the family no longer owns it.

Maybe it's because his mother was at the store while she carried him, or that her son always had an interest in business or that his father and grandfather were businessmen.

"I just keep busy," he said. "I like to be associated with people. It's interesting; it's something different every day."

Five generations of Judds have worked at the store since Judd's grandfather opened it on July 3, 1911.

"I'm dedicated to the job," Judd said. "I don't take time off. I can't believe people nowadays. They take so much time off. It's amazing."

Judd's watched a lot of things come and go from behind that counter. Grocery stores had the most impact on the general mercantile once offered by the store. It simply couldn't compete. But rather than give up the business, Judd converted it to a confectionary that serves sixth-grade students who attend classes across the street.

"These other chain stores came in, so we converted to something else," he said. "The school started growing, so we cater to the school to keep going. Any business has its ups and downs."

An old root beer advertisement hangs behind the glass counter. A sign warning patrons to keep their hands, feet, mouths and objects to themselves is taped to the front of it. Candy sits on shelves that used to hold sugar and gentlemen's clothing.

His students come back as adults.

Judd sold the store to the owners of Greene Gate Village about 10 years ago because it doesn't draw enough business to support a family.

Thomas Judd was part of the package, though, and he plans to work behind that counter as long as they'll have him.