WINSLOW — Wanda Theobald’s shelves and display cases at Maynard’s Chocolates were nearly bare after the recent Valentine’s Day rush.

“It’s a good problem,” the 49-year-old veteran chocolatier said.

Maynard’s Chocolates has returned to the area after a year-long odyssey that took the shop from the Hathaway Creative Center in Waterville to Freeport and then to Winslow.

The business had a strong showing over the holiday and its owners say it’s a good sign for their new location at 1 Cushman Road.

During the four-day run-up to Valentine’s Day, the store sold 60 pounds of chocolate-dipped strawberries and more than 1,000 peanut butter cups.

On Feb. 14, the store served more than 500 customers, with 25 to 30 people waiting in line at any given time, Wanda Theobald said.

When Wanda and her husband, Charlie Theobald, opened their business in 2009, she had already been making chocolates for nearly 30 years.

For Charlie, a laid-off machinist for Mid-State Machine and Kennebec Tool and Die and on-call captain for the Winslow Fire Department, the chocolate business was a completely different career direction.

But, the transition proved to be sweet. Particularly in the months prior to opening.

“For six months, we taste-tested all kinds of different chocolates,” Charlie, 59, said. “The type of chocolate we use is the best we’ve tasted.”

The brand of chocolate is a secret, the Theobalds said. The fillings and creams they concoct come from Wanda’s own recipes, some of which she developed three decades ago.

The shop’s specialties are homemade fudge, truffles made with top-shelf liqueurs and Needhams, the Maine-invented potato and coconut candy that gained national attention in the November issue of Food Network Magazine.

In early 2011, however, despite having a solid line of homemade chocolates, ice cream and lunches, the Theobalds had to leave their first location at the Hathaway Creative Center.

Wanda said the location had the potential to be a bustling destination for shoppers, but it never gained critical mass.

“I’m still mad about it,” she said. “I didn’t want to move away.”

The Theobalds opened their second store in Freeport in February 2011. Although it was an hour away from their first location, Charlie said some of their patrons followed them.

“As God is our witness, there was not one day that somebody from the Waterville-Winslow area didn’t visit our store. Whether they were going to L.L.Bean’s or wherever, every single day, we’d see at least one person. It was heartwarming for us,” Charlie said.

One of those customers is Linda Kingdon of Vassalboro.

“I followed them to Freeport, and I wasn’t the only one,” she said. “They’re the best.”

Although Freeport was a rewarding location, it was also hard work. In addition to long hours in the store, the Theobalds commuted two hours a day from their home in Winslow.

Then, when their home was burglarized last year while they were working in Freeport, the Theobalds decided to move again.

“Emotionally, it was devastating, and it still is,” Wanda said of the burglary.

The Theobalds opened their third location on Feb. 3 in Winslow. So far, the third time is the charm, Charlie said.

“Coming back beat our expectations,” he said. “It’s so nice being back. We get to see the grandkids more.”

Kingdon said the return of Maynard’s Chocolates means more than a shorter drive for her purchases.

“I think they make a really big contribution to the community,” she said.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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