A life behind the counter at See’s Candies

A woman in a white uniform with a black tie holds boxes of See's chocolates.
Stacey Thorpe, a 31-year employee of See’s Candies.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Stacey Thorpe can put together a custom 1-pound box of See’s Candies, gift-wrapped, in five minutes or less. She knows where every piece of candy sits behind the counter at her Glendale store. Her speed and crisp corners, she boasts, have prompted many customers to ask if she’ll come home with them to wrap their holiday presents.

Thorpe, 47, is a third-generation See’s Candies employee. Her grandmother was a manager. Her mother started in the 1960s and worked as a sales clerk and eventually a manager until retiring in 2000. And Thorpe worked her first shift as a 16-year-old seasonal temp in April 1990, also working her way up to manager. She runs the store at the Americana at Brand in Glendale. After more than 30 years, Thorpe can’t imagine doing anything else.

“One of the reasons I started working at See’s was my brother always poked his finger in the chocolates to determine what it was,” she said. “I told my mom that I’m going to work at See’s so I could actually get a whole piece without a finger in it.”


As a seasonal temp, Thorpe quickly started on her quest to ensure that every piece of candy she consumed was, well, whole. She placed handwritten menus next to the boxes of chocolates at family gatherings with names and arrows pointing to the different pieces. “I would write, ‘Hands off. These are mine and these are yours,’” Thorpe said.

“When you grow up, in school, normal kids have generic brand candy. I didn’t know that was a thing. I always had See’s Candies.”

Now with two kids of her own, Thorpe said she’s not allowed to walk in the front door without her family’s favorite candies.

“My youngest used to use the open dishwasher as a stepping point to get to the See’s candy on the counter,” she said. “I always have See’s in my house.”

Thorpe has spent her career in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. She started in Hastings Ranch, then was promoted to assistant manager in North Hollywood. She has been in Glendale for 10 years. Her day-to-day duties involve helping customers, making the store presentable and applying various “gift toppers” (ribbons and boxes). Thorpe also said the Glendale location receives many orders for wedding favors and birthday gifts.

One of her favorite things to do is selecting and giving out free samples. Customers can ask for any piece, but the store always offers a sample of the day. Is it possible to ask for too many samples? “No, never.”


Thorpe also doesn’t mind a little quality control tasting of her own.

“I don’t have any self-control with the candy,” she said. “The most I’ve had in an eight-hour day is probably five pieces on my break. Customers might order a specific piece throughout the day and I’ll think, ‘You know what? The Bordeaux does sound good.’ And I’ll have to eat it.”