SPOKANE — While Tuesday was the day set for closure of Liberty Orchards, the maker of the iconic Aplets and Cotlets candy will remain open as negotiations continue with a prospective buyer for the Cashmere-based company.
The fourth-generation company announced Friday on Facebook that customers could continue to purchase the famous chewy, square-shaped fruit and nut confections that include walnuts and apricots while negotiations are ongoing.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Liberty Orchards President Greg Taylor said he could not elaborate on the Facebook post.
“I can’t tell you anything,” Taylor said. “We are in negotiations. We’ll continue to be open until we resolve our negotiations.”
Asked if the buyer has committed to continuing the business, Taylor said he couldn’t comment. He would also not give a definite date for closing if negotiations fail.
“For the time being, we are open and (customers) can visit our store in Cashmere or they can order online,” Taylor said. “Product is still available in the retail stores.”
Negotiations on a sale are the latest development for one of Washington’s most recognized treats following the announcement in March that the family was giving up its legacy.
“We gave it a good effort,” Taylor said in March. “No business lasts forever. The family has made the decision that its time to close.”
While the family has traced orders for Aplets and Cotlets back to 1918, the company officially celebrated its centennial in 2020.
“It’s officially 101 years, but we’ve probably been around a little longer,” Taylor said.
The discussions among family members to sell or close began before anyone heard of the coronavirus. While the pandemic hammered revenue generated from factory tours and in-person store shopping, online sales actually increased during the shutdown, Taylor said.
The company has the original factory and offices, and another warehouse for shipping, located a block apart in Cashmere.
“Our brands have value, and production equipment have value. We are seeking buyers for all those things,” Taylor said in March.
The town of Cashmere named two streets after the company.
The popularity of the candy through the years even has brought efforts to nominate Liberty Orchards’ confections as the state’s official candy.
While Taylor liked the publicity for the company’s Aplets and Cotlets, he acknowledged that a claim could also be made for the state’s other iconic candy, Almond Roca, made since 1914 by Brown and Haley Co. of Tacoma.
“Our whole family is proud we made it 100 years and the products we made and the customers we’ve served over the years and all the employment we have provided in Cashmere and the area,” he said.