These chocolate bunnies were made by Dean’s Sweets. Melissa Mullen Photography

It looks as if the Easter Bunny is going to be social distancing this year. There will be no massive, neighborhood Easter egg hunts or big family gatherings around the same dining table until COVID-19 is under control.

Disappointed kids everywhere may be looking to their Easter baskets for comfort in the form of chocolate eggs, marshmallow chicks, jelly beans and other traditional goodies. Many Mainers have rallied behind struggling restaurants by buying lots of takeout. It’s time to do the same for your local sweet shop.

On a Friday in late March, Andy Wilbur, whose family owns Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections, said that his three stores would have had a combined 300 to 400 customers come through the doors on a usual day at this time of year; instead, they had just 10 mail orders and three curbside pickups.

“The three weeks before Easter is usually a third of most chocolate retailers’ annual income, and a lot of it really happens in the last week so it’s usually pretty intense,” he said. “Our busiest two days of the year are usually the Friday and Saturday before Easter. A lot of us in the industry are pretty nervous about what this looks like, because this is basically the income that pays our employees from now until tourist season.”

John DeGrinney, co-owner of Len Libby Candies in Scarborough, has had to lay off people who have worked at the candy store for nearly 30 years. He says it’s “been terrible.”

“As soon as we have any ability to put people to work, that’s what we’re going to do,”  he said. “We do not intend for this to be permanent.”

With most of their shops closed to customers, here is a look at how several local businesses selling Easter treats are handling sales this year:

Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections
174 Lower Main St.
Freeport
(207) 865-4071

Get curbside pickup of everything from foiled eggs to lollipops from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. (The Brunswick store will also be open, but hours had not been set at the time of publication; check the store’s website.) Wilbur suggests calling in orders ahead to avoid creating a crowd, especially right before Easter. Best approach: Don’t wait until the day before Easter to order. Online sales are also available at wilburs.com.

This floppy-eared bunny was made by Dean Bingham, owner of Dean’s Sweets. Melissa Mullen Photography

Dean’s Sweets
475 Fore St. or 54 Cove St.
Portland
(207) 899-3664

Owner Dean Bingham says he has his usual selection of floppy-eared bunnies, buttercream eggs, chocolate sheep and chocolate-dipped chicks and bunnies. (For Passover, he offers nondairy truffles and chocolate-covered matzo.) He’s had less help, so he’s not making quite as much as in previous years. Order online at deanssweets.com, or call ahead for curbside pickup. The Fore Street location is open seven days a week, and Cove Street every day but Sunday. Check the website for hours. Bingham is also offering free delivery within 10 miles.

Len Libby Candies
419 U.S. Route 1
Scarborough
(207) 883-4897

Len Libby Candies, the store known for its giant chocolate moose, is offering both online shopping at lenlibby.com and no-contact curbside pickup. Call in an order between 9 a.m. and 3 or 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday (closing time varies, depending on the day), pay by credit card and set a day and time to drop by the store to pick up your Easter candy. Your order will be placed, with your name on it, on a picnic table outside the store (the tables are protected by umbrellas). Owner John DeGrinney asks that customers not wait until the last minute to order. “If it is a two-day rush, we’re going to be understaffed for that,” he said. DeGrinney said understaffing also means his company will have a smaller than usual volume of Easter candies, and a couple of items, such as popcorn bunnies, may not be available.

Black Dinah Chocolatiers
869 Main St.
Westbrook
(207) 887-9763

Black Dinah is accepting online orders at blackdinahchocolatiers.com. For Easter orders, the chocolate company is offering free shipping within Maine. The store is also taking orders for shipping by phone. Call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This year, to make shopping easier, Black Dinah is selling a few more convenient gift options, such as its Spring Bunny Easter Gift Box.

Haven’s Candies
87 County Road
Westbrook
(207) 772-1557

Haven’s Candies is offering both online ordering and curbside pickup at its Westbrook store. Its Portland store at 448 Forest Avenue remains open, but is also doing online and curbside pickup. To order at the Forest Avenue store, call 772-0761 from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you prefer in-store shopping, the Forest Avenue store is allowing shoppers in a few at a time and is disinfecting regularly, according to the manager.

The Haven’s website is undergoing a makeover, so its Easter pickings on the site are lean. To see a complete list of the company’s Easter offerings, call the store and ask them to email their catalog. Owner Erin Collins says all of the Easter product has already been made, so customers will find the same selections and availability as usual – including items like the Haven’s famous bunny riding a motorcycle and make-your-own gift basket options.

Two Fat Cats
740 Broadway
South Portland
(207) 536-7713

If your child isn’t into chocolate, how about cookies or cupcakes? Owner Stacy Begin says the bakery will offer a simple menu of Easter-themed cookies and cupcakes – including her popular “bunny butt” cupcakes – for curbside pickup at its South Portland location. The bunny butt cupcake is decorated with a bottoms-up bunny who looks like he’s digging in the dirt. Other designs include flowers and bunny faces. Customers must preorder by phone between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., starting April 6. Pickup will be on Friday and Saturday only.


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