ASHEBORO — The Cookie Jar, a staple at Randolph Mall since 1982, will serve its last cookie on Sunday, Jan. 30.
Dallas Brooks, who owns the business with her father, Wesley Vestal, said that declining sales in recent months figured into their decision to close the shop and retire.
“Just when you think we’ve recovered from the pandemic, sales have been declining,” she said, adding that shopping malls in general have seen better days.
“We decided to close and retire, get out while the getting is good,” Brooks said. “We’ve had great customers and great employees,” many of the workers still in high school. “We’ve watched kids grow up. We’ve had an array of employees from 15 to 70.”
One of those employees is Barbara Moore, who has been working at the Cookie Jar for 23 years. She said when her late husband, Cecil, would get off work, he would come to see her.
“He’d come to talk and customers would come up,” she said, adding that she would tell him to stand next to the counter so others would come.
“I worked in a mill for 30 years and hated every minute of it,” Moore said. “I love this job. It’s more like a hobby that you get paid for — just being around people, especially the little kids. It’s not like a job.
“I’ll never find a job I like this good again,” she said. “I will probably retire.”
Brooks said the Cookie Jar is “one of the last original mom-and-pop shops in the mall. It’s bittersweet” to be closing.
“I started part-time in 1990, learning the ropes,” Brooks said. “We had a store at Four Seasons (in Greensboro) that I ran. It closed in 2010 and I came back here.”
During her 30-plus years at the Cookie Jar, Brooks can look back on the good times. “One lady had been getting the cookie cake since the second grade,” she said. “Now she’s getting cookie cake for her five kids.”
Holiday seasons were busy but brought delight to those working the counter.
“Christmas was always fun with Santa in front of us (at center court taking children on his lap for photos),” Brooks said. “Then they’d come and buy cookies.”
Moore agreed. “We were busy, especially on the holidays. I like to be busy.”
Moore added that she’s basically a shy person and that “this helped me get over it. I try to be nice to people. I learned to talk to people. A lady with a baby once came three days in a row because (her baby) liked me.
“I get a little teary when I think about (closing). But things change and it’s time to move on.”
Brooks said another employee, Lilie Norris, is 19 and has been working at the Cookie Jar for three years. “When I told her we were going to close, she said, ‘I will work to the end.’ That brought a tear to my eye.
“I think people will miss us.”
Favorites at the Cookie Jar were Swiss melt cookies, cookie-on-a-stick or cookie pops that children love, “all kinds of cookies — chocolate chip cookie cones, the everything cookie is a good seller.”
What made selling cookies so special, Brooks said, was “seeing a smile on a face when they take a bite. There are no grumpy customers. They’re buying cookies.
“I want to thank all the loyal customers,” she said. “I will miss them. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
As for the future, Brooks said, “I will enjoy life with my dad and husband. That’s the plan. I have a smart father who taught me how to save money. It’s been a very successful business.
“We’ll take the Cookie Jar name with us.”
Emma Hussey went up to the counter to give Moore her cookie order. “I grew up getting cookies here,” Hussey said. “Now I have a 1- and 4-year-old. When we come in the mall, not stopping to get cookies, they won’t have that experience.”
That pretty much sums up the end of an era.