Elgin mourns loss of Wonder Hostess Bakery Thrift Shop
If you ever wondered how long Twinkies snack cakes would survive, now you know they'll outlast the company that makes them.
When news broke about the Hostess Brands Inc. closing its doors, those who will have to find an alternative for their cake fix lined up Friday for their final haul.
Gilberts resident Dave Scurto stopped by the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop in Elgin Friday afternoon to pick up some treats after he heard the store would be closing.
"I remember them from when I was a kid," Scurto said. He added that Ding Dongs and CupCakes were his favorites. He was too late to pick up any Ding Dongs Friday, but did manage to find a box of CupCakes.
But for employees of Hostess's many shops around the suburbs, unemployment loomed even larger.
When Mary Richardson of Bartlett showed up to work at the Elgin store Friday morning, she found a line waiting to get in. She called fellow employee Kathy Lipprandt of Elgin, who wasn't scheduled to work until Friday afternoon, but Richardson was swamped with customers emptying the shelves of boxes of cakes and snacks.
"Twinkies, Ho Ho's, CupCakes — all that was pretty much gone right away," said Richardson, a three-year employee at the store.
Lipprandt said there had been rumors swirling for weeks about the company closing down.
"My co-worker called me at 6:30 this morning," Lipprandt said, "She called and said, 'It's closed, Kathy. We just have to go in and take care of the final product,'"
As more and more customers filed into the tiny store along Airport Road, Lipprandt knew nearly every one of them. Most offered words of encouragement and got a hug from Lipprandt, who teared up as she recalled getting to know them over eight years working there.
"I guess I'm going to have to get more black Magic Markers to cover the gray in my hair," she said, "get through Thanksgiving and be thankful for what we do have, and be thankful for all the customers and friends that I made here. I may not know all of their names, but it's like a little family."
Known by the nickname of "Wonder Woman" to some customers who see her on the street, Lipprandt said she'll be OK.
"We just have to make a new routine for ourselves," she said, "We'll be fine. Wrong time of the year for this to happen, but we'll be fine."
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