The Original Mister Ed's
Ed and Pat Gotwalt opened Mister Ed’s: The Territory’s Most Unusual General Store on February 26, 1975, about three miles east of the current location on Route 30. A place for great hoagies and snacks as well as merchandise varying from Native American jewelry and coal gifts to antiques and a small candy display, it really was an usual roadside attraction. The couple held big events at the store, too, including a Santa Arrival and Fourth of July Fireworks. Mister Ed became a local household name, thanks to his appearances on stage alongside Jean Stapleton at the Totem Pole Playhouse and antics like staying awake 76 hours straight to celebrate the nation’s Bicentennial. Sadly, the store closed in 1983.
A Destination Is Born
Shortly after closing the original Mister Ed's, Pat and son Michael were intrigued by an abandoned property nearby, particularly by a home that had beautiful Victorian character. Years earlier, the property had been home to an antique store operated by the Blackwell family, so there was a retail space available to reimagine Mister Ed’s. The store reopened as Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum, featuring Mister Ed’s 2,000-elephant collection and candy, as well as the gifts that had been successful at the previous location. Anchoring the new location was a life-sized moving and talking elephant named Miss Ellie. Over the years, room after room was added onto the store, and people loved exploring each of the seven areas.
Ed and Pat also took their business on the road, traveling the country with their candy and peanuts doing arts and craft shows, fairs, and other special events. At their peak, the couple did 42 events in one year, while also managing the store – quite a feat. Most events were done together, but sometimes they had to split up to cover more ground and did events with daughter Tammy and other staff.
By the early 2000s, Mister Ed’s elephant collection had grown to about 10,000 thanks to donations from friends, family and customers. The little museum regularly made national news for its large collection, and was a favorite of collectors throughout the world. Visitors to the historic Gettysburg area and locals alike treasured the business for its selection of candy and fresh roasted peanuts.
This, Too, Shall Pass
On July 5, 2010, during our most busy time of year, the store caught fire – a truly devastating time for the family, who had worked hard to build the business for the past 35 years. The outpouring of support after the fire was heartwarming, and thanks to the hundreds of volunteers from seven states who came to clean elephants on “Save the Elephant Day” and the perseverance of our family and staff, we were able to open the store seven months later on February 26, 2011.
The Next Generation
After experiencing a period of business growth, it was time to add the third generation to the business. In June of 2009, grandson-in-law Isaac came on board as the store’s General Manager following a successful and award-winning career in teaching. Then on July 1, 2014, the family met in a downtown Gettysburg attorney's office to finalize the sale of Mister Ed’s to Isaac and Nicole, who had long been involved in the business in one way or another. By this time, Pat had officially retired (2012), Isaac had been full-time at the store for five years, and Nicole was ready to transition the skills she developed in her successful career in communications to the family business.
Within the first few years of ownership, Isaac and Nicole expanded the business dramatically, wholesaling to local, state and national accounts, offering community fundraisers, and increasing candy offerings. In 2019, the pair completed construction of a 1,700-square-foot addition, including a wholesale space, a new candy kitchen and offices. Nicole became a certified chocolatier in 2021.
A Sweet Future
Today we operate Mister Ed's Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium as one of southcentral Pennsylvania's most unique attractions and favorite Gettysburg candy store. We are proud to have become a beloved destination, a family tradition.
As we embrace our history while building our future, we will:
-- Change with the times;
-- Listen to our customers;
-- Respect our past;
-- Strive for uniqueness;
-- Empower our employees to do the right thing;
-- Demand freshness;
-- Commit to the local community;
-- Treat our employees well; and
-- Keep learning.