Squire Boone pivots to e-commerce to save jobs & local history

 A pioneer in custom souvenirs and candy manufacturing for 40 years in southern Indiana, Squire Boone Village is not just one of the only American manufacturers of Rock Crystal Candy, but also a big believer in making childhood education fun! 

For decades, SBV has sold educational toys, gemstones, rocks and crystal candy growing kits to science and children’s museums across the country. Now, during this time of uncertainty, the small business is offering them online for individual purchase for families across the USA. This also is a hail mary to keep SBV in business and its 120 employees with a job.

In a matter of weeks, SBV has worked to transform its large manufacturing facility off of I-265 into an e-commerce shipping hub. Founder and CEO, Rick Conway, knows parents are at home, trying daily to prevent their children from falling behind in their learning and combating quarantine fatigue. From rock crystal candy growing kits to puzzles and rock collections, SBV has a world of discovery at your fingertips.

US Representative Trey Hollingsworth visited Squire Boone Village shortly after earning the seat for the 9th District to learn about Squire Boone Village and discuss his work on the Farm Bill and Sugar Reform. During normal operations, Squire Boone Village uses 1 ton of cane sugar grown in the USA daily in the production of Rock Crystal Candy. Throughout the years, many politicians have visited with president and owner, Rick Conway, because of SBV’s significance in operation in southern Indiana, including Vice President (then-governor) Mike Pence.

“Where I am today all started with a southern Indiana cave and a dream. I turned land rich in history into a tourist attraction. In order to help it survive, we needed to sell things in the different log cabins. Those products took off on a national scale which launched me into this wholesale world,” says Conway.

The tourism industry is the largest driver of SBV’s sales. Tourism is one of the hardest-hit areas of the economy due to the COVID-19 closures. From small mom and pop shops to major attractions like Disney and Universal Studios, orders have been canceled and placed on hold. SBV orders are now down 90% since stay-at-home orders began. 

SBV was fortunate to secure money through the federal Payroll Protection Program and is now in the process of (hopefully) receiving the EIDL loan.

“If we don’t receive the EIDL loan to float us through the fall and winter I just don’t see how we can make it,” says Conway.

Disney announced this week it may not be opening parks until the beginning of 2021. If other attractions follow suit this could mean next to no business for SBV for at least the next 6-8 months unless there’s a business model shift. 

Right now employees are building inventory with the hopes of orders to fill in the coming months. They’re also working on launching and promoting boonesmilltrading.com the idea that those orders can supplement revenue while typical money streams are at a halt. 

“By pivoting to e-commerce, direct to consumer, this is one way we can try to keep at least some dollars flowing to our staff while also providing a really cool way for parents to educate their kids,” says Conway. “Part of our core business is in developing unique and interactive souvenirs for our tourist attraction clients. We hope by providing our most popular products direct to consumers online we can bring some more fun into families’ days”.

Crystal Growing Experiment

Gem Mining Kit

Go Fish Puzzle Deck

Get Your Cray On! Puzzle 

Rock Crystal Candy

Squire Boone Village is one of the only manufacturers of Rock Crystal Candy in the United States and as a food manufacturer, it is deemed essential and has been allowed to call employees back to work who feel comfortable doing so.

“All employees wearing face masks, there’s hand sanitizer outside the front door so employees can clean hands before entering the building. There are handwashing stations all around the plant and workstations are positioned at least six feet apart. We also have 2 janitorial staff members who are disinfecting all day long,” says Conway.