Carrie Rengers

A peek into the final hectic hours before the new Nifty Nut House opens

A sneak peek at the new Nifty Nut House

A tired Steve Jahn is less than 16 hours away from the 8 a.m. Monday opening of the new Nifty Nut House, which is in 10,000 square feet next to the 8,500-square-foot former Nifty site at St. Francis and Elm.
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A tired Steve Jahn is less than 16 hours away from the 8 a.m. Monday opening of the new Nifty Nut House, which is in 10,000 square feet next to the 8,500-square-foot former Nifty site at St. Francis and Elm.

UPDATED — On Sunday, with less than 16 hours before the Nifty Nut House opened in its new, expanded space, Head Nut Steve Jahn was slightly less jolly than Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

“All the elves are driving me nuts,” Jahn said as workers scurried around him.

“I am off the charts with chaos here.”

It’s been almost three years since Jahn announced he was moving his popular candy and nut shop next door to his longtime store at Elm and St. Francis.

“I’m ready to get it done. . . . I’m nearly there, and I feel like Moses in the Holy Land. I can see it, but I’m not supposed to be there. But apparently I am going to be there, so I’m all for that.”

In a nutshell, no pun intended, what exactly took so long?

“Well, I am a professional procrastinator, and with the exception of Christmas, we don’t need the room, so I can just kind of meander on with my normal chaos mind, and that’s what I did. So we got close, and then we don’t need it, and I wait, and I overestimate my abilities as far as speed’s concerned, so I finally just got over myself and got it done.”

The store is switching to its holiday hours on Monday — 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday — but there are no opening specials.

“We’re just going to get in here and work out the bugs,” Jahn said.

He has other anniversary giveaways and fun planned for 2019.

At 10,000 square feet, the new store is only about 1,500 square feet larger than the previous one, but it feels significantly more spacious.

“It’ll feel very similar to what it was, just with a little more flow,” Jahn said.

Organic nuts are in the front with other nuts next to them followed by baking supplies and, in the back of the store, candy.

“We did that so the little ladies that bake don’t have to walk into the store so far. That’s how it was set up by my father years ago, and we just kind of continued that.”

Jahn’s father, Ron, had a vending route from 1968 to 1973 and sold the route to buy Nifty Nut House, which was the wholesale supplier for the vending company.

Jahn worked with his father starting when he was 8 years old in 1968.

“I was the mule hauling candy.”

The two always sold gumball machines and the candy for them, and Jahn finally has room to display his collection of them in a way he couldn’t at the old store.

“Now you can see my hoarding in its entirety.”

There are gumball machines lining the tops of shelves around the perimeter of the store and the interior as well. They’re everywhere.

Jahn pointed out that there are now also automatic doors to make exiting with lots of bags easier, and there is seating and plenty of restrooms, too, unlike the last space.

The previous store now will be used for roasting nuts and packing gift boxes.

With only an additional 1,500 square feet, it’s natural to ask if the new store is likely to run out of room again.

“Probably,” Jahn said, “but not tomorrow.”

With so much going on in the final hours before the opening, it also was fair to ask if Jahn truly would be ready.

“Ready or not, here we go,” he said.

“Our elves are tired but they’re going to be here bright and chipper in the morning.”

On Monday, Jahn reported that the store did open, even if his employees weren’t exactly chipper getting everything ready in the 7 o’clock hour.

“Ah, they were bright. We’ll just leave it at that.”

Jahn said Mrs. Claus, better known as his wife, Michelle, was exhausted and he was going to send her home to rest.

He, however, was wound up.

“I did some triple espresso shots.”

Jahn had hoped his three sons — Caden, 15, and 12-year-old twins Connor and Crestin — would be there for the 8 a.m. opening, but they were running late.

“I don’t know where they learned that.”

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